How to Binge-Watch Grace and Frankie, a Comedy About Two Women Navigating Life After a Stunning Twist
A retired cosmetics mogul and aging hippie are thrown together with hilarious results.
Grace and Frankie is an American comedy series created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris for Netflix. The series stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace and Frankie, two very different women who are thrown together after their husbands, Robert, played by Martin Sheen (Roy Sanders, The Edge of Night; Jack Davis, As the World Turns) and Sol, played by Sam Waterston, make a stunning and totally unexpected announcement. The show premiered on Netflix on May 8, 2015 and was renewed for a seventh and final season on September 4, 2019. After numerous friends recommended Grace and Frankie as binge-worthy, I turned it on while self-isolating. Now at the end of season five, I can confirm it is absolutely hilarious, but beware the comedy is liberally laced with profanity. Soaps.com has the synopsis of the first episode of Grace and Frankie below, which contains spoilers.
Entitled The End, the first episode of Grace and Frankie opens with retired cosmetics mogul, Grace, meeting aging hippie, Frankie, in an upscale restaurant, where it becomes clear they share a mutual dislike for one another as they await the arrival of their husbands, who have been partners in a legal firm for forty years. After Grace orders her trademark very dry martini with two olives, the women speculate that Robert and Sol are about to announce their retirement. During the meal, the nervous Sol rambles about ‘change’ until Robert blurts that they are leaving their wives for each other. Shocked upon learning their affair has been going on for twenty years, Frankie questions Sol, “You’re gay, and this is who you’re gay with?” When the men declare they’re getting married, Grace pitches seafood at Robert while Frankie scrambles for her inhaler.
Back at their respective homes, Grace and Robert wrestle with the question of whether they were ever truly happy together, while Sol admits he hates hurting Frankie. The next morning, it’s time to tell their adult children. Sol and Frankie host their adoptive sons, recovering addict, Coyote (Ethan Embry) and uptight lawyer, Bud (Baron Vaughn), who are flummoxed by the idea that their father and ‘Uncle Robert’ are now a thing. Across town, Grace and Robert’s daughters, mother of four, Mallory (Brooklyn Decker), and Brianna (June Diane Raphael), who succeeded Grace at the cosmetics firm, burst into their parents’ home cursing as they’ve already heard the news from Bud. Grace is inconsolable until Brianna breaks out the valium.
The slightly dark comedy continues as Grace takes delivery of a chair Robert ordered that features Ryan Gosling’s face on the seat and angrily confiscates it. “If anyone is going to sit on Ryan Gosling’s face, it’s going to be me!” Meanwhile, Frankie hits up a convenience store to stock up on junk food and asks a startled lady in the freezer section, “Did you ever wonder if Ben and Jerry made more than ice cream together?”
Grace and Frankie both decide to take refuge at the beach house the families co-own. Frankie arrives first and makes a batch of psychoactive peyote tea. Grace arrives to find her performing a smudge ceremony. After an argument, Frankie heads off into the dunes and Grace calls Robert and demands the house. After nightfall, Grace is forced to join Frankie by her beach bonfire where she’s experiencing back spasms that are ‘harshing her buzz’. Upon delivering Frankie’s muscle relaxants, Grace helps herself to a few and inadvertently drinks the peyote tea as well. Soon, Grace can ‘smell color’ and the pair are hallucinating and dancing around the fire together. Morning seems to bring a new understanding between the unlikely duo, who return to the beach house, sit and share a laugh (causing Grace to pee a little on Ryan Gosling’s face), and wonder, “Now what?”
There were many more nuggets in episode one of Grace and Frankie, and as the series continues the laughs are offset by poignant moments as the women navigate the ups and downs of their situation, growing old, and the complexities of the various relationships in their lives.