Lily Tomlin plays the other half of a dynamic duo.
Jane Fonda is known for her serious roles and personal activism, and now, at 77, the timeless actress is jumping back into comedy, too. In fact, she’s funnier (and more strikingly beautiful, often outshining stunners like Angelina Jolie) than ever in her buzzed-about new Netflix TV series, Grace and Frankie. Co-starring Lily Tomlin, 75, the duo plays two rival wives whose husbands fall in love with each other and leave them, forcing the frenemies to commiserate and navigate their new life as roommates and senior singles.
The series premiered in May to rave reviews and has already been renewed for a second season. In a recent interview, Fonda says she suggests binge-watching the show, as all the episodes premiered at once to a mere total of six and a half hours.
Fonda is so dazzling in the role, as is Tomlin, that I’m grouping them with more of my fabulous leading lady favorites dominating television right now, including Viola Davis, Kerry Washington and Julianna Margulies.
It’s no secret that these strong, seasoned female leads are making major Hollywood waves right now, and Grace and Frankie could pave the way for more thoughtful, well-written comedies and dramas for the 50+ set. (I already miss Hot in Cleveland and its fearless firehouse Betty White!) After all, there is plenty of relate-able material to pick from: late-in-life divorce, an economy that’s too tough for retirement, and even gender identity issues now in the news thanks to transgender Caitlyn Jenner, who had three heterosexual marriages.
As if Grace and Frankie isn’t bringing to light enough real-life issues in its plot lines, the show’s production made even more headlines regarding another issue: the gender wage gap. It’s been reported that these two sparkling leads are getting paid the same as Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, who are only supporting cast. Fans are rabidly petitioning online for Netflix to pony up, even as Fonda and Tomlin are claiming their salary joke was taken out of context.
The timing couldn’t be better. Just as we are entering the chaos of the first female running for President, it’s comforting knowing that networks and shows like this keep pushing accomplished older women to the forefront of our culture. Netflix has my vote – and Hillary might, too.