Women are under- and misrepresented in Hollywood. We know this. We know this because that’s what I’ve been ranting about on this blog for the last six months or so. Older women even more so, right? Ladies in the acting world are bound have a shorter career span than men, this much is obvious.
There is often a major disparity between the ages of male and female actors, for example in in the Bond franchise. Age differences between the actors played Bond himself and his Bond girl counterparts often reach about 17 years difference. This is something which is rarely even commented on, but instead it is merely accepted that older men have more right to be onscreen than older women. The graph below shows some of the biggest age gaps between male and female actors who play couples onscreen, and is taken from The International Business Times (full URL given on the resources page).
Grace and Frankie does everything it possibly can to counteract this. Working with a diverse cast of gay and straight and black and white and male and female actors and actresses, this fantastic feel-good Netflix show is everything I’ve ever wanted as an antidote to the tired patriarchal rule of Hollywood. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are perfectly matched as the pristine Grace and quirky Frankie (and if I don’t turn out to be exactly like Frankie when I’m older, I will have failed myself) – navigating the trials and tribulations of being a woman in her seventies.
They tackle the issue of age directly head-on, when Frankie manages to steal a packet of cigarettes, as women over fifty are declared ‘invisible’ after being ignored by the cashier. Frankie describes it as their superpower, and thus the tone is set for older women reclaiming their lives despite the whole of society writing them off as over.
I cannot recommend this show enough. It passes the Bechdel Test multiple times per episode, but that’s scratching the surface of what this show does for women in Hollywood, and older women in general. It’s heart-warming, hilarious and devastating in equal measures at different points and features probably the most wholesome onscreen female friendship I’ve ever seen.
The one qualm I have about this show is not actually something which takes away from it, but is instead I believe something which is supposed to provoke thought. Throughout the storyline, Grace and Frankie’s families express concern over their living situation, implying that both women have ‘settled’ for the lives they have chosen – living in a beach house with their best friend and running a successful sex toy business. They are both encouraged throughout to find a man and/or move into an old age home instead of continuing with this blissful set up. I hope the show concludes with everyone realising that neither Grace nor Frankie need to change anything in order to be happy in themselves. Then it would be perfect.
Female friendship, sexuality and self-love are all at the forefront of this fantastic show. I cannot wait until the next season. You could even say that I’m buzzing.