This past weekend, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time – I watched an entire season of a TV show in one afternoon.
This kind of binge-watching treatment is usually reserved for a show like Game of Thrones, although one needs intense psychological counselling afterwards.
In this age of blockbuster high-concept television, it’s difficult to find a series that can make you laugh, cry and learn something in one highly-palatable 13-episode season.
Netflix’s Grace and Frankie is just that.
The show follows two very different women in their 70s who are thrust together when their husbands reveal they’ve been having a gay affair – sort of like an Odd Couple with a twist.
Grace (played by Jane Fonda) is a refined glamazon whose icy exterior clashes with Frankie (Lily Tomlin), a peaceful hippy who loves getting high and eating organic food. Their chemistry is better than any forced romantic pairing you will find in a Hollywood film.
The show boasts an impressive pedigree: it’s the brainchild of Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of Friends, and Home Improvement writer Howard J. Morris.
Even better, it has a cast that looks something like an Aaron Sorkin alumni reunion.
Martin Sheen (The West Wing) plays Grace’s husband Robert, while Sam Waterston (The Newsroom) is Frankie’s husband Sol.
The four leads are all excellent, conveying the various complexities of their respective situations with aplomb and bucking the whole “old people” stereotype that often permeates modern television.
In a rare occurrence, the periphery characters are equally as wonderful.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are excellent as Grace’s sardonic daughters, while Ethan Embry and Baron Vaughn are unabashedly loveable as the adopted sons of free-spirited Frankie.
Together, they give off a slightly dysfunctional Brady Bunch vibe that’s as hilarious as it is addictive.
Where the show really shines, however, is in its sharply accurate portrayal of relationships, which is essentially the topic at the core of every episode.
Grace and Frankie delves into heavy topics with sleight of hand, covering everything from drug abuse to infidelity and ageing to divorce without ever losing its sense of humour.
On a surface level, it has the charm of a classic throwback sitcom but the look and feel of a sleek HBO drama.
However, a notable lack of cheesy sitcom tropes gives the dialogue more gravity and makes it feel modern – appropriate for a script that’s as socially relevant and risqué as a Miley Cyrus song.
Speaking of Miley, did I mention she’s a fan? Her tweet about the show – in which she described the lead characters as “bada$$” – got it renewed for a second season.
“Let me say, it’s so awesome to do a show on Netflix,” Kauffman told Vanity Fair.
“Because two and a half weeks after we launched, Miley Cyrus does a tweet about your show, and they call and say, ‘We’d like to do a season two.’”
I found my show! #GraceandFrankie on a bender! Jane & Lily are so bad a$$!
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) May 25, 2015
That’s just further evidence that Grace and Frankie sits comfortably at a juncture not many shows inhabit: appealing and relatable to the older generation but laugh-out-loud funny and engaging for millennials.
So, if you’re stressed about work, struggling with the winter chill or just plain bored, settle in with a glass of red and get ready to feel as good as Jane Fonda looks for her age.