(Editors note: graphic content in paragraphs 11 and 13)
By Mary Milliken
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Tripping on muscle relaxants and peyote on the beach, two discarded wives portrayed by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin work through their anger and heartbreak and then ask “now what?”
How an uptight Grace (Fonda) and a bohemian Frankie (Tomlin) bounce back from the indignity of abandonment by their husbands at an advanced age is the comic fodder for the new Netflix Inc series “Grace and Frankie” that debuts Friday with 13 episodes available for streaming.
Enjoying an easy rapport 35 years after the two teamed up with Dolly Parton in working women revenge comedy “9 to 5,” Fonda, 77, and Tomlin, 75, revel in the rare opportunity to showcase women of a certain age.
“We are the fastest growing demographic in the world and yet we are not reflected in the media,” said Fonda, a two-time Oscar winner in her first lead television role.
“I am really happy about the fact that ‘Grace and Frankie’ can begin to expose what it is really like to be older women.”
Grace and Frankie are a modern-day odd couple, thrown together by their husbands’ revelation that they are a gay couple and wish to marry. Martin Sheen plays Grace’s husband of 40 years, Robert, and Sam Waterston is Frankie’s spouse, Sol.
With the physical comedy that made famous her sketch characters Ernestine (the nosy telephone operator) and Edith Ann (the precocious girl), Tomlin is a quirky spiritualist that goes on vision quests, brews peyote tea and chants like a mooing cow.
Tomlin, a six-time Emmy winner, said Grace and Frankie show women “are not full of old cliches and stereotypes and we become people!”
The two actresses, among the most celebrated of their generation, sound miffed when they talk about the dearth of roles for women their age. But then they crack a joke and make each other cackle.
Like their characters, they don’t hold back on graphic language and details about dealing with an aging body, such as when Grace goes to bed with a new boyfriend.
“Frankie is concerned about vaginal dryness being a problem,” Fonda said. “So she gives me her vaginal lubricant that she has made from yams and I thought it was jam and have been putting it on my toast.”
“It’s good for you,” responded Tomlin.
“That’s what you tell me ... don’t put anything in your vagina that you wouldn’t put in your mouth,” Fonda retorted.
Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Andre Grenon