Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie
Credit: Melissa Moseley/Netflix

It’s hard to argue that there are plenty of good roles for women of a certain age when even Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have to star on duds like this. Created by Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Howard J. Morris (Home Improvement) and only slightly buoyed by a stellar cast, this slow-moving comedy centers on WASPy Grace (Fonda) and hippie Frankie (Tomlin), who move into their shared beach house after their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) run away together. It’s a gay twist on The First Wives Club, and the jokes are just as dated as that reference, poking fun at the idea that anyone over 65 might use an online dating service or get high. Grace’s daughters are squeamish about homosexuality in a way that’s tactless, if not offensive, yet the tone urges us to laugh with them, not at them. “What am I going to tell my kids?” Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) asks her sister, Brianna (June Diane Raphael). “Why don’t you start with ‘Do you know where poop comes from?’ ” she replies.

At a time when dramatic comedies like Transparent and Beginners have opened viewers’ eyes to the complicated process of coming out later in life, Grace and Frankie plays like a ’90s sitcom, going for elbow-nudging jokes (“Have you ever wondered if Ben and Jerry make more than ice cream together?”) and mostly ignoring the specific details of what each family is going through. Fonda and Tomlin’s great screwball chemistry can’t save the show either. It’s tough to imagine a worse fit for Netflix. A sluggish, groanworthy comedy about depressed roommates? Who wants to binge that? C

Grace and Frankie
  • TV Show
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