In Grace and Frankie the title characters are surprised with a request to divorce by their husbands of 40 years during dinner – in a public restaurant no less (so they don’t throw a tantrum). But this request comes with a twist – their husbands Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) are leaving them because they’re actually in love with each other. Yes, for 20 years they’ve had more than just a law practice together. They’ve also been secret lovers. And now that they’re in their ‘golden years’ they want to be ‘happy’ and start a new chapter in their lives and get married.
The chemistry between the veteran actors is impeccable. Grace and Frankie can’t stand each other in the show but are brought together during this time because they finally have something in common. Grace is a snooty, skinny WASP who can’t stand the sight of carbohydrates. Frankie is a former hippie; a muumuu wearing, chanting and incense burning artist.
The show explores a few interesting themes: coming out in your 70s, being single when you’re a woman of a certain age, growing old alone, acceptance, understanding and divorce. Cue your funny ‘old people can’t use technology’, frenemies and divorce jokes. And it does succeed in doing this in a rather graceful yet funny way.
It was touching to see that they didn’t shy away from the hurt and pain that the women are going through and the guilt that Sol is feeling for hurting someone he loves. I’m glad that they didn’t gloss over the clear pain that they’re feeling. When Grace asks Frankie why she isn’t angry she replies: “Because I’m heartbroken.”
It’s both relatable and heart breaking – of course this happens when both women are sitting on a beach high on peyote.
It does favor the lives of the women (seeing as it’s their name on the series title) but we do get to see some glimpses into the lives of the men. The contrast between their lives and that of their ex-wives. Their happiness of no longer having to hide is apparent, and yet the guilt still nags at least at Sol.
Although written and created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris of Friends fame, this is definitely not a show for you if you’re looking for something that is akin to Friends. Perhaps this is what would have become of the characters in Friends had we followed them after the show ended? Either way, it is worth a watch and all episodes are now on Netflix. If you’re just going through a divorce perhaps you can take comfort in the show. If not, still bring a box of tissues because it will move you to tears.