After what seems to have been a never-ending wait, Season 5 of the hit series Grace and Frankie is finally here. In case you’ve just woken up from a coma and have not seen this delicious comedy starring the ageless Jane Fonda as the elegant but uptight Grace, and Lily Tomlin as the ditsy New Age Frankie, here’s what you’re in for.
For as long as they can recall, Grace and Frankie have been rivals. Their one-upmanship comes crashing to a halt when their husbands (Martin Shaw as Robert and Sam Waterston as Sol), best friends and partners in a law firm, reveal that they are gay and in love with each other and that they have been having an affair for the past 20 years. They are moving in together and getting married as soon as they can divorce their stunned wives. As their worlds fall apart, Frankie and Grace have to overcome their differences and realise that the only thing they can really rely on is each other. As they move into a beach house together, sparring partners and partners-in-crime, Grace and Frankie form an unlikely and unbreakable bond and face their uncertain futures head-on, hand-in-hand. Together with their ex-husbands and children, they find that that they have to redefine the meaning of what a family is in this modern world. Finding themselves single, they realise that old people become invisible and ignored. But Grace and Frankie take up the challenge; they become energised and revitalised as they deal with their new reality, often with tragi-comic results.
Meanwhile Robert and Sol have to adjust to life outside the closet. The sexual revolution has past them by and they find that catching up on what they’ve missed is full of pitfalls they could never have envisaged.
Season 5 promises more outrageous shenanigans and more guest stars to help them along the way, such as RuPaul. In one episode Grace and Frankie break into their house that their kids are trying to sell against their wishes. RuPaul, who thinks he is buying the house, catches them breaking and entering and he is not amused! It seems that there is still no Dolly Parton cameo for that long-promised 9 to 5 reunion, but a RuPaul guest stint is the next best thing.
Meanwhile appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week with co-star Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin explained why she decided to turn down Time magazine’s offer of a cover story in 1975 in which she would open up about her sexuality. . “It was a hard decision to make, so I fell down on the side of … probably good sense,” she said. “So I decided that I just wasn’t going to play their game. I wanted to be acknowledged for my performance.” That particular Time cover story ended up being about a queer military veteran. But it’s not like Tomlin was closeted at the time. Just not “on the cover of magazines out.” She was already living openly with her partner Jane Wagner whom she married in 2013, and all but admitting her homosexuality in sketches on her 1975 comedy album Modern Scream. She did make it on Time’s cover two years later in an article which focused on her work and called Wagner her “friend and collaborator.
Twenty two years later, Ellen DeGeneres cemented her role in pop culture history when she came out as gay on her television series, Ellen, and on the cover of Time magazine in 1997.
New episodes of Grace and Frankie can be viewed in South Africa from 18th January on Netflix. It has also just been announced that the show has been picked up for a sixth season.