Preview: Hollywood Royalty Star in Grace and Frankie

Immediately LGBT friendly (and foodies) the wedding cake in the opening titles had me second think my decision not to buy my favourite biscuits in the supermarket last night.  That plus my over excitement to see Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda, on screen together for the first time since the 1980’s ultimate revenge office comedy “9 to 5”, has literary sent me into a giddy sugar rush – a placebo of white chocolate in the form of a salty rice cracker!   I have no doubt that the all new Netflix Original’s series Grace and Frankie is going to be an outstanding award winning comedy.  Premiering in the US & UK on the 8th May I’d suggest to invite some friends around, buy some great cheese and open up a couple of good reds.

Grace and Frankie

Episode One highlights

Frankie (Lily Tomlin) a woman after my own heart is devouring everything in sight at a swanky restaurant, Grace (Jane Fonda)  joins her for liquid refreshments as they contemplate the forthcoming announcement from their husbands who are about to join them.  Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) clearly nervous are skirting around the sea food platter with small talk before Sol declares “Change is always good”.  Robert interrupts and states that the two husbands are leaving their wives, “for the next stage in our lives” interjects Sol, with Robert revealing that the two business partners have also been in a relationship for the past 20 years.

Never break up in a restaurant has always been one of my rules (at least make sure all the food is finished first), the aftermath views the two ladies dealing with their pending detachment in their own individual ways, Grace bitterly hurt “It would have been better if you died”, while Frankie more calmly prepares to announce to her multiracial sons that their father is gay, and wishes to marry Robert.  With a laid out breakfast platter that would rival The Ritz, the announcements begin the next morning in Grace’s household.  Swapping reality for quirky (and toxic) rebound comforts, Frankie and Grace individually escape to a jointly owned beach house between the two families.  Despite the fear of pending divorce, anger and total devastation Grace and Frankie are experiencing, it is difficult not to laugh along with the natural genuine comic timing from Hollywood royalty.

Episode Two highlights

I truly believe the best place in the world to recover from a hangover is by the sea, the soothing waves, fresh sea air, Piña coladas!  In the rising sun of reality, as Grace and Frankie focus on breathing at the beach house, a rejuvenated Robert declares “This is the first time in 20 years that I feel like I can breathe.” Breathing I’d imagine would be difficult around Frankie, who is a walking, smoking joss stick of white sage multidimensional energy.

Honest friends always tell you that you look terrible when you do, and great friends take you to lunch.  Despite the intervention of Frankie’s rational friends, Gracie insists on paying (one of my many tricks to sneak in an extra cocktail), only to discover that her credit card has been declined.  Attempting to pay with Frankie’s credit card results in the same public humiliation of, do not pass go – go straight to jail, no credit.  “That way you can’t make a big purchase before the settlement is decided” adds Amanda (Mary Kay Place).  Grace with the recommendation from Amanda suggests that Frankie should immediately move back to her own home, to avoid losing possession of it.  “Fuck You Sol, I’m going to my house” states Frankie on the phone to Sol as both sets of children rally around to pick up, deliver and intervene amidst the escalating hostility.

Episode Three Highlights

The new (gay) couple Robert and Sol, prepare invitations for a family dinner, while omitting invitations to their former partners. “I feel like I have forgotten something” ponders Sol.  I’d agree, alcohol!  Don’t they have Come Dine With Me in America?  The number one rule when organising an awkward dinner party, you need lashings of ginger beer.  Simmering tensions between Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) and Coyote (Ethan Embry) come to the surface as he explains “I was on a combination of Tequila, Cocaine and Non Stick Cooking Spray” and has no recollection of what he did on or to her lawn.

As Grace cancels out her former social calendar lifestyle, she decides to return to work, despite her retirement.  Frankie is suffering from a lack of creativity with painters block, and applies to a local advert seeking an art teacher at a local retirement home. A hilarious case of mistaken identification by caretaker William (Jason Ralph) sees young at heart Frankie walk / squat out of the premises “Do I look like I need a bed with a motor”.  Frustrated, “I haven’t had a cigarette since smoking was good for you” Grace reminisces, now may not be a good time to start-up – look what happened to Thelma & Louise!

Episode Four Highlights

Is it possible for a funeral to be hijacked by a coming out party?  Frankie has relocated her ex-convict art class to the beach house (keep an eye out for the phallic pottery), interrupting the class Grace attempts to shift Frankie’s cosmic timeline to the present while questioning her funeral attire, a “Free Willy” T Shirt.  Across town Richard disagrees with the choice of Sol’s shoes while pondering “What should we call ourselves, longtime companion?” For the benefit of younger readers, longtime companion is a term that newspapers used to use to refer to a gay partner in obituaries.

The struggle of facing up to a social group after a long term relationship or marriage has broken up is just as difficult for all involved.  “They can’t leave us and share clothes” whispers Frankie as Grace points out a birthday present tie to Richard is now being worn by Sol.  As the two men try to explain the change in their business relationship to now include intimacy, a slight case of foot in mouth develops.  Richard is frustrated and embarrassed that Sol’s public mannerisms are not as refined as Grace, the men realise that they too are grieving the loss of their ex spouses.

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Alexander Ryll
Launched in June 2014, Gay Essential is the world’s largest gay themed film blog promoting new and rare features. I am helped by some amazing writers and we also cover film festivals in the UK and USA. We are 100% independent, without advertising or funding by film distributors. Help to keep Gay Essential independent by purchasing our merchandise GET (Gay Essential Tees)
Alexander Ryll


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