Netflix’s longest-running original series Grace and Frankie has an impressive legion of fans for a show about two 70-year-olds. Sure, the fact that the two elder ladies were played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin no doubt added to the intrigue around the show, but Grace and Frankie has evolved to be something bigger than its headliners.
The show is hilarious, profound, well-acted, and heart-wrenching in all the best ways. But the best part about the series is how it has a multitude of lessons to teach its audiences, no matter which generation they are from. After all, when two 70-year-olds find out that their husbands are not simply business partners but also lovers, they better have some life-changing lessons to take away at the very least, right?
So beyond the raw, lighthearted punchlines, here are some of the most important life lessons we can all take note of from Grace & Frankie:
1. Knowing one’s self is a lifelong quest
It took Robert and Sol 70 years to muster up enough courage to come out and claim their identities. The lesson to be learned here is that you’re never truly done getting to know yourself. We are constantly evolving, and while it’s okay to look back every now and then to the people we used to be, we’re actually better off focusing our energies on embracing newer versions of ourselves – the ones that are freer, happier, and more liberated than we ever were.
In the story, Frankie and Grace also had no choice but to re-explore their individual selves in light of their husbands wrecking their married lives and respective retirement plans. Being single women in their 70s felt foreign and terrifying at first, but once they finally came to terms with their new reality, they both had the pleasure to meet the best, bravest, and feistiest versions of themselves by far.
2. It’s never too late to start over
Just as there are no hard deadlines to self-determination, it’s likewise never too late to start chasing the dreams you forgot to pursue along the way. Grace and Frankie taught us this lesson when they ventured into business together in their golden years. Working off of Grace’s business clout and Frankie’s confident optimism, the two women built an entire company from scratch, going up against much younger business competitors – because they can.
For as long as you’re alive, anything and everything you could have been can still happen for you. You can still make all of that happen if you take charge of your dreams today. Stuff like age and gender could definitely provide some hurdles on your journey, but what’s success without a few bumps along the way?
Furthermore, if Sol and Robert could act on their feelings for each other at 70, then none of us should settle for less than what truly brings us happiness – even if it means starting over.
3. Acceptance is divine
Over the course of the series, the characters had to down some hard-to-swallow pills about life as they knew it. Grace and Frankie went through all stages of grief while trying to accept the fact that they no longer belong in their husband’s future (romantically, at least). They went back and forth through various shades of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression before they finally gained acceptance of their new realities.
The takeaway here is that you have to be patient with yourself when you’re trying to accept a big change in your life. May it be ending a long relationship, or losing a job you really loved or getting rejected for an opportunity you’ve been eyeing your whole life, acceptance will not happen overnight. The process will take some time, and the worst part is no one can really tell how long it will take for acceptance to come. But once you weather through the darkest days and realize you survived, you will feel divine.
4. People can surprise us if we let them
The whole story begins with Grace and Frankie clearly not liking each other. Frankie thought Grace was too uptight, while Grace found Frankie a bit too free-spirited for her liking. But thanks to their shared tragedy, the two were drawn to each other. After spending enough time together, the two ladies realized that their conflicting personalities actually make them a perfect pair. Moreover, they were surprised to find that what they had in common will always be bigger than what turned them off about each other in the first place.
Grace and Frankie’s friendship was never 100% smooth-sailing. They have huge fights and get on each other’s nerves almost every day, but the incredible thing is that they kept choosing to forgive and love each other – no matter what. They stood up for each other through it all, one could almost forget they didn’t like each other in the beginning.
Indeed, people can surprise us if we’re not quick enough to dismiss them just because they’re a tad different from you.
5. After a failed relationship, take what you can learn and move on
When love affairs don’t pan out, many people pine for the time they lost. “Well, that’s five years of my life I’ll never get back!” cries the scorned lover. Well, you will never hear Grace and Frankie talk about how they just wasted 40 years of their lives with the wrong person. Instead, they took the good memories and the lessons they learned in those marriages to do better moving forward.
Better yet, the story didn’t go the route where the two 70-year-olds completely giving up on love. Shortly after their marriages fell through, Grace tried online dating, and Frankie found new love a couple of times over.
Allowing a failed romantic relationship to dictate the rest of your life can easily be the biggest mistake you do. Just take all the lessons and say, “thank you, next.”
6. ‘Acting your age’ can be overrated
An awful lot of us make such a big deal out of acting our age. Worse, we have a tendency to gatekeep other’s actions, saying stuff like, “Isn’t she a little too old to be wearing that?” or “What is she doing out partying? Isn’t she like a grandmother already?”
Well, Grace and Frankie just can’t have any of that. Aside from being open to exploring their sexualities, they love to dress up, enjoy a drink or two, and make total fools of themselves whenever life gets a little boring. You may have heard this before, but age is just a number and it shouldn’t limit how you want to live and enjoy life.
7. You miss an awful lot by not paying attention
One of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the show dates back to the pilot episode, when Grace questions how she could have missed the fact that her husband was gay even after spending 40 years together.
Where was I?”
On the other hand, Frankie already saw some signs, but she chose to ignore them and go about her business. It’s clear as day that the lesson here is that we could all benefit from being a little bit more present in our personal lives. This is not to say that Grace and Frankie were the ones responsible for finding out the truth about their husbands, but they could have saved themselves a great deal of heartbreak if they had taken their cues well.
Start paying more attention to your own life, so you won’t end up asking yourself, where was I?
8. Perspective is everything
Grace’s and Frankie’s experiences do not differ all that much, but more often than not, it’s how they respond to these experiences that make all the difference. Grace often struggles to find happiness and composure because she mostly sees the bad things in life. On the other hand, Frankie is almost always stress-free because she doesn’t let negativity consume her life. Instead, she fills her days with stuff that brings her joy and peace like meditating, making vlogs, teaching art, and making whale-like noises. In effect, her problems never seem too great. Indeed, perspective is everything.
9. Family is what you make it
For a show that begins with back-to-back divorces, Grace & Frankie leaves us with a pretty amazing sense of what family really is. Amid all the issues and heartbreaks and betrayals, we watched how their two families practically became one. They all show up for each other in the worst of times, teaching us that family is always, always what you make it.
10. Communication and compromise make friendships last
Anyone who has ever experienced having roommates can attest to the fact that it’s not easy living with other people. A lot of things can go wrong, and in the case of Grace and Frankie, a lot of things did go wrong. They disagreed with each other a lot, and had several falling-outs that seemed impossible to get over (remember the whole shooting-dummy-Frankie fiasco?), but through open communication and compromise, they somehow make it work.
The show teaches us that friendship, like any other kind of relationship, requires hard work to last. But that lesson is accompanied by another one, which is that friendship is precious. so when you find someone you actually want to keep for life, that hard work will always be worth it.
Overall, Grace & Frankie is an amazing show about family, friendship, women empowerment, and how age is a hindrance to living your best life – but only if you let it.
Article by Bella Toledo Edited by Li-ling Ooi