Thoughts on a TV Series

Grace and Frankie
I watched the Netflix TV series, Grace and Frankie, over the weekend. While billed as a comedy, I found it so true to real life that it is disturbing. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are authentic in their parts, with Jane Fonda enviable with her figure and looks, and Lily Tomlin a little too “over the top” in her performance. The laughs mostly come from their characters, as they try to re-enter life as newly divorced women in their 70’s. What a chore that would be!

The story is about two guys who have been married to their respective wives for over forty years. They have been having an affair with one another for twenty of those years, with the spouses having no idea. As law partners, the duplicitous lives of the husbands were easy to conceal. Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are cast as the husbands, and Sam Waterston gives a very believable performance in being torn between the man with whom he wishes to spend the rest of his life, and the woman who is loved in a familiar, supportive, and comforting way. Martin Sheen has very few moments as a relaxed and impressive character, and, except for a few tender moments, his ego shines through.

Divorce is calamitous in any situation, and these are especially complicated. The children have to acknowledge that the person whom they thought a heterosexual man, faithful to their mother, has been having an affair with his business partner. It would be particularly burdensome in realizing that their mother is suffering as much as if their father were having an adulterous relationship with another woman.

I object to the way the few gay friends of the new “out of the closet” couple are portrayed. They look ridiculous, supposedly because this adds laughs for the TV audience. I wonder why they have to be stereotyped, why not show them as they are, a part of the community. There are both kinds of people, but the absurd entertains. Let’s get real.

I expected a comedy and instead watched a show that amused me but stirred up thoughts of how awful this world must be for those who feel they would not be accepted for being who they are and showing their true selves to the world. There are many gay and lesbian people who took (and take) shelter in marriage. Both partners would be cheated in such a relationship. When one learns the marriage was artificial, how heartbreaking that would be.

See the series, you will be entertained. Look beyond the meaning of the clever lines, isn’t laughter often next to tears? I look forward to the next chapter.