This week, we’re all about media featuring the over-55 crowd, and we start with a look at Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. In the second half of the show, we talk about seniors on TV (Murder She Wrote features prominently, you’re welcome).
The third season of Grace and Frankie was released on Netflix at the end of March 2017, and by the very fact that it has two female leads who are in their 70s, it’s a revolutionary show. The show was created by Marta Kauffman (one of three creators of Friends) and Howard J. Morris (Home Improvement and According to Jim).
Jeff and I are both fans of Grace and Frankie, and the work of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on it. The show overcomes a rather trite sitcom premise to do something subversive by telling a story for and about these two female septuagenarians.
Lily Tomlin is a comedic legend, and her talents are on full display throughout Grace and Frankie. My absolute favourite lines in the series come out of her mouth, and it’s so often just the spin she puts on a small joke that turns into a gut-buster. Praise.
Jane Fonda brings a layer of depth and emotion to her performance as the uptight Grace, and it’s very easy to see why she is a two-time Oscar winner. Her ability to emote outside of any dialogue and to show a real journey of discovery at this later stage of life gives the show a real ground to stand on. Also, Jane Fonda seems kind of awesome.
Jeff is excited about a depiction of two men who have lived the majority of their lives in secret, and choose to live it openly in their 70s. Sam Waterston does great work in showing us Sol’s emotional side, and Martin Sheen matches him by showing us Robert’s embrace of his newfound freedom. I appreciate that the show is choosing to focus on June Diane Raphael’s character, Brianna. Her work here reminded me how great she is, and I hope she gets more and more to do in future seasons.
We praise the show’s use of accomplished female actors as powerhouse guest stars, and for those of you playing along at home, I count 3 former Frasier guest stars:
Wendy Malick (Ronnie)
Marsha Mason (Sherry)
Millicent Martin (Mrs. Moon)
If you find others, PLEASE tweet at me.
The show also deserves praise for it’s frankness about sex and sexuality. It’s one more facet of a human life that the show is honest about, and it happens to revolve around 70 year old people.
In our second segment, we are talking about senior citizens on TV–a subject near and dear to my heart. We start with the Alpha and the Omega of seniors on TV, The Golden Girls. It always fascinates me that the great actors who played Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Rose (Betty White), and Sophia (Estelle Getty) were in their early 60s when the series premiered and Blanche (Rue McLanahan) was 51! Crazy town. This show was groundbreaking in its portrayal of female friendships as the main driver of story.
We spend some time talking about icon and legend Betty White. I was excited to learn that she is credited as the first female television producer for her 1950s show Life With Elizabeth. She has had a long and interesting career, and we are here for it.
Obviously, we spend some time on Murder, She Wrote, because that show is LIT. Ok, to most people, it’s medium. But to me, it is and always will be LIT. It’s a great example of a case-of-the-week show, and it’s a showcase for the charm and acting talents of one Ms. Angela Lansbury. You know, the 5 time Tony winner. NBD.
There is a direct line between MSW and Matlock, starring another television legend, Andy Griffith. Both of these shows portray their older lead characters as keenly observational and intelligent as compared to the people committing crimes around them. Their experience (their age, really) makes them better equipped for their jobs.
Pop Culture Kool-Aid Picks
This week Jeff is recommending the video game Overwatch. You may have heard of it, because all the dudes in the world are playing it. Some ladies are too, maybe? I haven’t met one, but I hope they are. It apparently does some very interesting things with backstory, especially for an online multi-player game, and Jeff thinks it’s a revolutionary way of telling stories.
My Pop Culture Kool-Aid pick this week is a playlist that my dear sister Taryn Hope made for me. It’s called Jock Jams, and it’s meant for listening to in and around sporting events, but it features only the music of badass women. God, it’s so beautiful. Through the playlist, I’ve met Lizzo, Sammus, Elle King, and others, alongside classic faves like Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé (duh), and more. If you have Google Play, you can subscribe to Jock Jams the playlist here. If Spotify is more your style, here is a version on that platform. It doesn’t have quite the same artists, ie no Bey, but it’s still awesome.
Also, I wasn’t kidding about “The Harper Valley PTA”. Check this shit out.
Thanks so much for joining us this week! Don’t want to miss an episode? Go ahead and subscribe on iTunes or on Google Play! We’d love to hear from you! If you want to get in touch on Twitter, Jeff is @jlabryan, and I’m @laurencheal.