'Grace and Frankie' leads in representation and defying stereotypes



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Lily Tomlin, left, and Jane Fonda play two wives who find themselves almost single again in Netflix's "Grace and Frankie," now streaming on the site. (Netflix) MCT Campus / TNS Buy Photos

Grade: A


Netflix released season 2 of its original series “Grace and Frankie” May 6 and these old women have consumed every day of my life since.

The series premiered last summer and I was admittedly suspicious of a show that appeared to be an unnecessary modernized “Golden Girls.”

Fundamentally, “Grace and Frankie” is a modernized “Golden Girls” but it’s far from the atrocity I thought it would be.

The show centers on Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein, two women in their seventies who are polar opposites in nearly every way. They’re only common denominator are their husbands, Robert and Sol, who divorced them in order to marry each other.

The first season was about seeing the women come to terms with their single status. We saw the anger and bitterness toward their unfaithful husbands, which turned to sadness and eventual acceptance. There were benders, hook-ups, tearful venting sessions and vodka. So much vodka.

Season 2 is exploring the women outside of their divorces in the veins of romance and career.

Grace finds herself in a complicated situation with an old flame while Frankie takes the plunge with her long-time “yam man” Jacob. And Grace tries to become a mentor as Frankie goes into business with Grace’s daughter, Brianna, to mass manufacture her yam lube.

This season also puts more emphasis on secondary characters. Robert and Sol, now married, must overcome their first marital problem when Robert learns Sol slept with Frankie.

We see more of the children as they navigate the less awkward but often stressful in-between of supporting their mothers and their now married fathers. Their individualized stories are developed with Coyote trying to find his birth mother and Brianna’s relationship with her company’s accountant, Barry.

“Golden Girls” was revolutionary in its depiction of elderly women trying to survive the single world. The women were explicit and open about their love lives and sexuality, which was radical for any woman on screen at the time let alone women in their seventies and eighties.

“Grace and Frankie” challenges the same portrayal of old women but I’ve never gotten the impression the show as trying to imitate or out-do “Golden Girls.” Rather, it’s picking up where the 1980’s sitcom left off.

These two women are highly sexual, they drink too much and they smoke a lot of weed. They’re brash and use colorful language and are basically everything I aspire to be in life.

The show is leading the game in terms of representation with queer and interracial relationships that don’t feel glorified or exploited and it’s everything we needed but don’t deserve.

Hats off to Netflix for once again exceeding my expectations.

Lexia Banks

lnbanks@indiana.edu | @LexiaBanks

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