An art show puts Grace And Frankie’s character-driven comedy on display

Grace And Frankie’s third season jumps into the messy dynamics brought out in the final altercation between its titular characters and their families at the end of season two. Last season, Grace and Frankie were at their most fraught, pulled apart by Grace’s drinking problem. But the death of their dear mutual friend Babe brought them back together again, only to realize that they’re still each other’s greatest allies and advocates: Their ex-husbands and children all take them for granted and underestimate them. So Grace and Frankie were thrust back together again, deciding to turn their unlikely friendship into an unlikely business partnership. The third season opens on this new chapter in their relationship. Grace and Frankie are back and making vibrators for older women.

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Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin on Aging, Exes and ‘Grace and Frankie’ Appeal

When the cast and crew of Grace and Frankie took the stage Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, they did so with money on their mind.

Partway through the session, star Jane Fonda revealed that anyone on the panel who could make the cavernous ballroom of reporters laugh would get paid $100. “We were told you were very serious and don’t laugh very much,” the actress joked, racking up an easy $100. Over the course of the lively panel, her Netflix co-stars Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston found themselves cleaning up, too.

In between the laughs, however, came poignant insights about what made their comedy about two seventysomething women whose husbands have fallen in love with each other resonate. “I think people are astonished by this show,” said Waterston. “They don’t expect such delicate, difficult and hard subjects as late-life sexual orientation changes, divorce, death itself and aging to be funny at all.” Fonda added that the series likely gives its older viewership hope as well.

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Jane Fonda on GCAPP, Grace and Frankie, and her favorite ex-husband

Shortly after you started GCAPP, you addressed Georgia’s teen pregnancy problem at the Capitol, where you receive a lukewarm reception from some lawmakers. Today, the success of the nonprofit means that people who once snubbed you are now asking for your help. Is that gratifying?
It is. It’s a different time now. People are more aware of the problem. The people on the front lines understand that the way to tackle teen pregnancy prevention is through programs that have been proven effective. When I first started, we only had tools like those Baby Think It Over dolls. A health teacher handed out a life-sized doll that would cry all the time. It was supposed to show you what it was like to live with a baby for a week. Any parent will tell you there’s a lot more to having a baby.

Still, as you pointed out in a recent New York Times Letter to the Editor, across rural southern states, there’s still a lot of work to be done. What’s the main obstacle GCAPP faces in those areas?
Poverty. Middle class kids know that there’s a future beckoning them that would be compromised by having a baby early in life. There’s a motivation that’s built in there. If you took a map of the United States or a map of Georgia and identified the pockets of poverty and overlaid it with the pockets of teen pregnancy, it would be the same. That’s why we refer to teen pregnancy as a generational transference of poverty.

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‘Grandma’ Star Lily Tomlin on Feminism, Gay Rights, Stardom at 75 … and Donald Trump

Do you plan to continue working on TV and in films and onstage, all at the same time?
I’d like to have a job, but I’m closer to valuing my personal time now. Maybe I’ve run out of speed, I don’t know. If I get a project, I’m totally there for it.
But I’m aware that it’s taking away from my personal time. You know, I talk about my early life with such detail, and so many lessons embedded in it. And then I think about the time after I got famous, and I’m like, “Remember that hotel we went to where were we playing? And we had, like, a really good hamburger? Do you remember that? You don’t?” You can’t remember anything.
It sounds like I’m getting old when I say I can’t remember anything. And that’s not true. It’s just that when you get consumed by show business, what you remember changes. I remember ratings, I remember if I got a bad review, I remember if I got a good review.

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