Grace and Frankie is a show about friendship. It’s a show about women. It’s about aging. It’s a show about life changes that hit you when you least expect them. It’s about motherhood and what it’s like later in life when the kids venture out on their own. It’s about love – when it breaks and how one picks up the pieces. It deals with some very tough issues in a very realistic way. It’s a show I’ve binge watched three times. It’s also a show with legends (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen).
Season one featured thirteen episodes. I rolled through it pretty quickly in anticipation, as that is the effect knowing all the episodes are available has on me. Now I can’t wait for season two. I can’t wait to find out what happens after the first season ended so I can see where the storyline goes. Will a wedding take place or come to a crashing halt after a brief yet important encounter between two of the main characters is bound to be revealed?
The show’s friendship between the two lead female characters, played by Lily and Jane, had grown closer throughout the season as a result of the news they learned in the first episode when their husbands left them for each other and a new chapter seemed about to begin in season two.
In my last blog post about the show, I wrote:
The chemistry between Fonda and Tomlin is as good as it was 30+ years ago in Nine to Five. It’s like watching old friends re-enact what life will be like for me in 30-odd years
Well, guess what? Their relationship is like that in real life. Ask me how I know.
Because I was on the set of Grace and Frankie yesterday and I came face-t0-face with two of my lifetime idols. These are two women I look up to. They are pioneers. They are activists. They are true thespians.
I was invited as a guest of Netflix because of my love for the show, which I am eternally grateful for. It was because of this blog that brought me to this pivotal moment. Meeting them was just that good and that significant.
Two other bloggers and I were invited onto the set’s “Video Village” where they film on the Paramount Studios lot. Given my background in television, I’ve been on several sets. I’ve even worked on a few, from my days at CNN and Lifetime Television. But this experience surpassed everything – from meeting the show’s writers and producers (who were legends themselves, with credits ranging from Friends to The West Wing, to watching scenes from season two get shot (sorry I have no spoilers) to my interview with Lily and Jane. The experience was simply too sublime to describe.
As a blogger, I’ve interviewed some fabulous people and done some incredible things, but no other time compares to this in the way myself and the two other bloggers were treated. Lily had seen our photos, read our bios. She was prepared for our interview in ways I can’t describe, but also seemingly looking forward to it. At one point, the two women stumbled off the set during a break and came towards us in anticipation. It was the biggest welcome I’ve ever received! Jane has a blog, which I’m a fan of, so we spent the first few minutes debriefing on what we write about, what she writes about, when we all write, how long we’ve been writing for, how we monetize, etc. Social media broke the ice.
Then we spent nearly an hour talking about the show. Alexa Junge, one of the shows Executive Producers and a writer herself, kicked off the interview with a great quote (if you IMDB Alexa, her credits will knock your feet off by the way, AND she’s a playwright) about the show and its impact on people:
“It’s great to be on a show where age and wisdom are of value.”
That’s what the show does. It gives a face to older women, a rarity in both TV & film today. The great thing about Grace and Frankie is that it’s not only funny, like Golden Girls, but is also quite dramatic and intense. During the first season, the writers explored issues that are not often delved into on television (like how older women get dry vaginas – yes, that word came up several times during our conversation!). The show is groundbreaking and rooted in good writing – after all, legendary producer Marta Kauffman is in charge – and it really explores some tough topics.
I also have to comment on Jane and Lily’s friendship. I don’t have to tell you they made Nine to Five together 35 years ago. Their ties and connection are very real. They poke fun of each other, they compliment each other, and they support each other in ways that can only assist their working relationship. It’s an authentic friendship, the real thing.
At the end of our interview, our Netflix contacts suggested we all take a photo, and I’m not kidding you when Jane ran to get her camera to grab a shot of us, the bloggers. It was a memory that is getting locked in my vault forever. My heart is full and I am inspired.
Stay tuned to this space over the next few months for more on my set visit, interview and season two, coming in March 2016. Meanwhile, season one is now streaming on Netflix so you have time to get caught up.
Disclosure: I was invited to L.A. as a guest of Netflix’s #StreamTeam but all opinions are my own, as usual.