On January 18th the fifth season of Grace and Frankie was released on Netflix. If you haven’t binged watched it already, Grace and Frankie tells the story of two former rivals who became roommates and later friends when their husbands leave them to marry each other after a long affair. The hilariously witty show does a wonderful job highlighting the experiences and struggles many older adults face and can teach us so much about aging and the importance of relationships.
I should also note, this blog post may contain some spoilers so read with caution if you haven’t watched the newest season of Grace and Frankie.
Here are four lessons we can learn from this newest season of Grace and Frankie.
1. Aging in community can look different for different people
At the end of season four, Grace and Frankie escaped from the the retirement community they they felt compelled to move into after a number of disasters take place at their home. After moving into the retirement community, they realized the environment did not meet their needs. Instead, they wanted to move back home. While the retirement community was ideal for the needs of some of the characters in the show, it wasn’t ideal for Grace and Frankie who wanted more independence.
Grace and Frankie’s hilarious escape from the retirement home highlights the fact that many people want to be able to remain in their own homes. In fact, the desire to age in place and remain in your own home is fairly common among older adults.
2. Dealing with adult children can be challenging
Grace and Frankie’s children, Brianna, Mallory, Bud, and Coyote, all mean well. But while their intentions are motivated by love, their actions throughout the season don’t always come off that way to their mothers. For example, after a health scare, Bud forces Frankie to get a home-aid, despite her hesitation and protests.
The adult children want to help their parents as best as they can, but in the process sometimes become more overbearing than helpful. A lot of problems this season could probably have been avoided if the kids listened to their parents about what they wanted.
3. Ageism is a real problem
This season shines a light on the not-so-funny reality of ageism both in the workplace and in our neighborhoods.
Grace is patronized at work once her employees find out that she’s turning 80. She is kept out of meetings and resorts to extreme measures to stay on top of everything, fearing that one slip up will make her seem old and incapable.
Meanwhile, Frankie struggles to cross the street with her friend and realizes that the crosswalk near her home does not give older pedestrians or others who may have mobility limitations enough time to cross the street. She schedules a protest and eventually gets three seconds added to that stop light. While adding three seconds to a light may not seem like much, it does play a role in making the community more age friendly.
4. Older women are incredible!
While this is something we at H.O.M.E. already knew, it bears repeating. Earlier this year the New York Times published an article titled “I Am (an Older) Woman. Hear Me Roar.” That article and some of the think pieces it inspired show us how influential and powerful older women have become in our world and how, both despite their age and because of their age, they are able to work hard and make a difference.
This season of Grace and Frankie highlights that despite the challenges that older women may face they are still able to make a difference in their companies, communities, and families.
March is Women’s History Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions and impact that women have had in our country. Please join us in thanking all of the women that have made a difference in our lives.