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Tackling women’s ageing with the subtlety of a sledgehammer

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If you’re uncomfortable discussing sex for the over seventies, read on.

Netflix hit Grace and Frankie starring Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) is tackling this subject head on, and there’s nothing subtle in its approach.

Vaginal dryness, homemade ‘natural’ lube, dating sites, steamy flings, sex aids, divorce and same-sex marriage – this series has it all. And more is to come if the Season 3 teaser trailer is anything to go by (heads up – it features a lot of buzzing vibrators).

Jane Fonda as Grace

Jane Fonda as Grace

Series co-creator Marta Kauffman (one of the creative forces behind Friends) said talking about issues after 70 is important because of a kind of vulnerability that happens to your body at that age.

“I did want to talk about sexuality with older women because people usually go ‘ugh’ when you talk about an older woman having sex. F… you. We can have sex when we’re older, and we’re going to find a way to make it beautiful and lovely and important,” she says.

If you haven’t seen the series yet, here’s the plot. Grace and Frankie are two women in their seventies whose comfortable lives are shattered when their husbands Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), who are partners in a law firm, reveal that they are gay, in love with each other, and leaving them to start a new life together.

Robert and Sol

Robert and Sol

This leaves uptight Grace and free-spirit Frankie in limbo and having to reinvent their lives.

They find themselves living together, and this is where the magic happens. Supported by a fantastic cast, they gradually find their balance again, and don’t take a backwards step when it comes to their age.

Issues associated with ageing are highlighted from the word go on this show, with Tomlin describing the discounting of older women as an important one to tackle in the first season.

“We did that in one of the episodes where we went to a supermarket in the first season and the young guy who was manning the cash register didn’t acknowledge us,” she explained.

Lily Tomlin as Frankie

Lily Tomlin as Frankie

“We’re screaming and shouting and trying to get his attention and he doesn’t hear us or see us. He sees a real voluptuous young girl come in and gives all his attention to her. There’s just so much of that. It’s not funny. But it’s all this stuff about women having to start over. Having the rug pulled out from under them.”

Fonda said she is proud the series has given a face to older women.

“Old women say to me, ‘I watch the show because it gives me hope.’ Really? That’s so great to feel like you’re giving people hope because life isn’t easy you know,” she said.

“Lily and I are also playing who we are. Old women who survive.”

Their alter egos Grace and Frankie not only survive; they thrive. Season two ended with Grace nursing an injured wrist from using a vibrator, inspiring her to start a business with Frankie making sex aids for older women.

Season Three airs on Netflix on March 24, and Fonda and Tomlin are already pushing to make more seasons of this smash hit. I can almost hear some new taboo topics smashing against a wall.

Images: Supplied by Netflix

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