Why Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” is a TV Milestone for Women Since ‘Golden Girls’

Published on January 30, 2020

Netflix’s Grace and Frankie season 6 was released earlier this month, and it was announced not long after we all binged the delightful 13 episodes that the show would be renewed, bringing Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin to the screen for a 7th and final season. Good news right? Well, bittersweet, as the 7th season will also be the final season.

The “farewell” season of Grace and Frankie will consist of 16 episodes, and will then become Netflix’s longest running original series with a total of 93 episodes.

But, what is it that makes the loss of Grace and Frankie so tough to stomach?

What keeps viewers of all ages and genders coming back for more has always been, despite the multitudes to choose from within the show, the two main characters that Tomlin and Fonda along with series creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris  crafted so brilliantly.

“Grace Hanson” and “Frankie Bergstein” are truly — our spirit animals.

When the series, starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, was first announced — many people probably assumed, and reasonably so, that it would appeal primarily to middle-aged and senior women.

Since Golden Girls, there hasn’t been a relevant TV show on this level that celebrates women over 45, and even surpassing it, with Grace and Frankie‘s central characters in their 70s.

Side note — Tomlin and Fonda are, in real life, now 80 and 82.

The surprise with Grace and Frankie, however, was that it wound up appealing to a much wider audience. Women in their forties (and younger), as well as film buffs in general who remembered so fondly watching the Tomlin and Fonda duo in 9 to 5 tuned in to get another taste of their superb onscreen dynamic.

Millennials organically latched onto one or more of the super strong supporting roles, such as Fonda’s thirty-something daughters played by June Diane Raphael and Brooklyn Decker — or the seemingly hopeless, floundering son of Tomlin played by Ethan Embry.

But, to my core argument here. Grace and Frankie represent the dominant qualities in all of us. The “Yin” and the “Yang.” Two extremes coming together as BFFs that balance each other out.

Grace: the poised, grounded, go-getter that has way more going on deep down than anyone (except maybe Frankie) realizes. Or Frankie: the wild, compassionate, artsy, gypsy spirit who spends a little more time in the clouds than any place else.

Perhaps we all have a little bit of both inside of us. But everyone is bound to resonate more deeply with one gal or the other. And whichever character isn’t “us,” we likely recognize them in our best friend, our mom or our partner. 

The roller-coaster that is the combined life of Grace and Frankie is so ridiculously watchable, because we all, in some sense, and regardless of age, have been there. Whether it be their lofty ventures that aim to make an impact on society or their almost-too-absurd-to-be-real love lives, we recognize at least a handful of their ups and downs to be more than real.

So, which one is your spirit animal? And — how excited are you to witness what kinds of delicious trouble they stir up in the finale?

Alexi Melvin is the Senior Entertainment Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers entertainment, events, and their intersection of tech. She is a voice actress, known for her work in the Star Wars franchise films. She is also fluent in both English and Sarcasm.

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