We celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday. You may have received a rose or a tulip or a chocolate. If you haven’t, it’s alright. There’s a celebration for single women all over the world that takes away the pressure of the dreaded Heart’s Day.
Celebrated every February 13, Galentine’s Day was created by Leslie Knope, a fictional superwoman and small town government employee from Parks and Recreation. The character was played by Amy Poehler.
Galentine’s Day is a day to celebrate all the lovely ladies in your life. Sorry men, I think you will have to find your own terminology.
But even if February 13’s two days over, there’s no one stopping any of us to celebrate it. I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a better way to spend Galentine’s Day than be on Netflix. And I found the perfect pick for this week that will surely make any girl’s night a memorable one.
“Grace and Frankie” is a feel-good Netflix show that has everything you would want to watch. I am not sure how many young Cambodians remember “The Golden Girls”, but there has been a big gap in pop culture for these aging women drama series that first aired in 1980s. But “Grace and Frankie” is definitely filling that gap for me.
“Grace and Frankie” first aired in 2015 on Netflix. I first watched Season 1 while on maternity leave and it is not something I would usually choose for myself, seeing all the main characters are over 70. I figured I wasn’t exactly in the target audience. However, before I knew it, I was well into Season 4 and anticipating the release of Season 5 which came out just last month.
The series stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin who are perfectly matched as the retired cosmetics mogul Grace Hanson and eccentric hippie art teacher Frankie Bergstein. Both are dealing with navigating the trials and tribulations of being a woman in their seventies.
The story follows two upper-middle-class women whose husbands come out as gay and announce they are divorcing their wives to marry each other.
Grace (Jane Fonda) and Robert (Martin Sheen) have been married for about 40 years and have two daughters who are already in their 30s, Brianna and Mallory. Robert is a lawyer while Grace runs her own consumer products business for women.
The other couple – Frankie (Lily Tomlin) and Sol (Sam Waterston) – are a typical hippie couple. They have also been married for 40 years with two adopted sons.
In the first season, Sol and Robert finally move in together after they come out to their wives over lunch.
Grace is an uptight socialite having little in common with Frankie who is portrayed as free-spirited, rasta-hat-wearing, yam-lube-making hippie. Both are non conventional grandma types as Grace loves vodka with her breakfast while Frankie spends her free time lighting up a joint in her art studio.
As both Grace and Frankie are going through divorce and needing a place of solitude away from their husbands, they accidently end up in a shared beach house which they both feel entitled to.
Despite their stark differences, they both soon realise they only have each other right now, as they don’t want anyone else to know about their marriage failures. So they end up moving in together in the beach house the couple shared. And against all odds, become friends – learning how to deal with each other’s very different personas and styles.
But what they have in common is the feeling of being scorned and how they must learn to navigate the fact that their husbands were carrying a secret affair for 20 years already and now want to at last be together, out in the open despite the very fact that it will also affect their children.
In the end, Grace goes through more transformation than Frankie as she has already been going through the motions of trying to play the perfect upper middle class lawyer’s wife for decades. She loses many of her friends and has to deal with how much of her identity was taken by being a wife. This gives her the drive to no longer hold back on her dreams and to finally do things she has always wanted to do.
Throughout the series, the women continue doing things to try to defy their age, but the one thing they are having trouble defying is the aging of their bodies. Despite looking arguably hot for their ages (GILF), they are often dealing with knee pains, mini strokes, and other minor ailments that bring some comic relief to the show.
One thing that I really love about this show is that Grace and Frankie’s characters have the confidence to challenge those who say they can’t start a business at their age, and a rather racy business it is!
The series follows them as they open up their own senior citizen adult toy business. The product they sell – as you can imagine – leads to a lot of raised eyebrows but it also allows for an open dialogue about sex and aging.
Aside from the four main characters, there are side stories of their adult children and their families which keeps things moving forward. Each of the adult children has pretty extreme personalities. For instance, one of the children is part of a quid ditch team based on the fictional Harry Potter books.
Series creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris certainly made a series that does not just poke gentle fun at the realities of aging but also balance warmth and sincerity in tackling issues that are not commonly talked about. It gives a playful yet realistic take on life – aging, relationships, sex, motherhood, family.
And while the two main characters do not really have women’s defining characteristics, they surely are fun to watch as they give us the real talk we all need. They have a troubled life, but haven’t we all?
So, spend your late Galentine’s Day with your best gal pals with some serious laughs over “Grace and Frankie”. See what may be in store for you as you age gracefully.