I realise that this is my second week in a row baking cakes for a fictionalised female duo from the small screen. I have no other explanation than the time of the season – it is quiet, it is cold, and I am spending my free time very much rooted to my sofa, under the warmth of a blankie, watching the telly.
Maybe this is my modern version of hibernation; I’m very much enjoying this down time before the weather warms up and I hit the road once more. Click here to check my events page and see if I’m coming to a town near you!
Unlike Feud: Bette & Joan (the subject of last Monday’s post), Grace & Frankie is a tale of female friendship with a positive and often poignant view of two women’s lives. Avoiding all spoilers, the show chronicles the lives of Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein, two women in their seventies, their friendship, their relationships, and their families.
I did think about dedicating this entire post to Jane Fonda but, if you would like to hear more about the incredible life that this formidable woman has lived, Karina Longworth dedicated an entire mini-series of the You Must Remember This podcast to Jane in which her life was compared and contrasted to Jean Seberg. Jane Fonda is formidable in a very real sense of the word and I think that she has lived several lives over, coming back stronger each time. This is well worth a listen. Plus, I love Frankie Bergstein so much that I couldn’t leave Lily Tomlin out!
Grace & Frankie is something truly special. For a start, we have lived though a time where women ‘over a certain age’* have been largely invisible; when an actress is no longer seen as the ingenue, the availability of roles to play starts to diminish with each passing year. See Feud: Bette & Joan for a perfect illustration of this conundrum. Though the actress may become better and better with age, without a decent role to play, she is lost. As women, we are cast as maiden, mother, and crone. Those are your options.
*I’ve always hated that phrase; be more specific. 25? 35? 40? When, pray, do we ‘go off the boil’?
To have a successful and beloved show, now in its fourth season, centred around and starring (as well as Exec Produced by) two women in their seventies who are both three-dimensional, recognisably human characters, is a wonderful thing. Both Grace and Frankie are full of life and far from the stereotypical 70-something-year-old, whatever that is. Frankie is an artist and an old hippy (she has described herself as such!) and though my own Mother is a good decade younger, seeing her up on screen makes me think of something my Mother said. We were discussing how the concept of aging has changed dramatically in a generation or two; my Grandparents got to 50, retired, and sat in a chair for the next 30 years. My Mother and her partner are both retired and are currently having what seems to be the adventure of a lifetime in India.
Seriously, they are always on holiday! As soon as they get home, they start planning the next adventure and, when they are at home, they are always at a gig or a festival watching bands. Dave, my Mum’s partner, has the best T-shirt which reads “I may be old but I got to see all the good bands.” Dave likes to remind me that he saw David Bowie at some tiny university gig when it cost about £1 to go, and that he hitchhiked to the Isle of Wight Festival in 1971.
Should these two reprobates ever need to move into Shady Pines, they won’t want Andrews Sisters tributes and tea dances, they will want Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and special brownies.
My bestie Kate and I have wondered if our Shady Pines will have Take That tributes and how we can make sure that this in fact happens. Kate and I often message each other little quotes from episodes of Grace & Frankie as we watch from across the country; my telly being in Bedford, hers being in Manchester. We have sat and watched episodes together and tried to decide which one we are, much in the same way as we would try to decide which Sex in the City character we were 15 years ago. As ever, we are both a little bit of both.
If we end up as crazy and fabulous as Grace and Frankie (gay ex-husbands aside), I’ll be a happy older lady. Floating along, together, in a hot air balloon.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I rather like it and am starting to regret having binge-watched it over a weekend! Give it a go if you are looking for something funny, clever, stupid, and sweet.