Netflix is becoming famous for the quality of its original series and for its willingness to tackle tough issues, like the issue of trans identity in Orange is the New Black. Now its promising to do so again in its new gay friendly show Grace and Frankie, featuring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, which will be available next year on Netflix. The two will star as competitors, both married to men who come out as gay late in life. When the two men announce they will be marrying each other, the two women will have to learn how to deal with this new familial dynamic and subsequently with each other.
With classic professionals such as Tomlin and Fond, both of whom have proved their capacity to be funny over and over again, the show has all the makings of being an absolutely hilarious sit-com style adventure. They will have thirteen episodes to charm the 33.4 million subscribers of Netflix’s service. After the success of such shows as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, it looks like they have a great shot at doing just that.
The worry is that if the writing isn’t great, the important issues that the show is based around might be lost in the shuffle or handled badly. Television rarely features gay couples or individuals over the age of fifty. But Netflix has decided not only to include them in their program, but to make them the main catalyst for the entire show. That’s enough to make Grace and Frankie pretty revolutionary as far as programming goes.
Luckily, Netflix has a good track record of handling sensitive LGBT issues. Laverne Cox, a trans woman, is one of the first trans identified actor to actually play a trans character on film. Orange is the New Black has been her platform not only to be more outspoken about issues facing the trans community, but to open the discussion about these issues to straight and normative-gendered persons. Her portrayal of Sophia Burset has changed the way trans characters are viewed, framing them not as one-dimensional victims of violence or discrimination, but as a multi-faceted person. This not only changes the view of trans individuals, but it creates a new dialogue about what it means to be trans in today’s world.Hopefully, Grace and Frankie can do the same thing for the older generation of LGBT people.
What the show definitely will do, however, is please the fans. Tomlin and Fonda, long before starring in Netflix’s new gay sitcom, starred together on the hit show 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton. This was enough to make both Fonda and Parton into gay icons, a role they have both relished in for many years. Already there is begging for a full 9 to 5 reunion and, if Netflix is smart, it will happen. If they’re lucky, the show will surpass the 2% of subscriber viewing that House of Cards had after it released Season 2.
Whether or not Netflix’s new show actually ends up being gay friendly or whether Tomlin and Fonda can make it into comedy gold, one thing is certain. Netflix users everywhere will be binging on its thirteen episodes as soon as they possibly can. Until then, the entire Gay and Lesbian section on Netflix is still open for viewing. And if that’s not enough to keep viewers busy, they can always re-watch House of Cards.
Opinion By Lydia Webb