Some of us have postponed watching the acclaimed Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” which has now been renewed for a second season.
The series is the story of how two affluent families cope when the husbands, longtime friends and law partners, tell their wives at dinner that they are gay, in love with one another, and planning to marry. It’s a comedy, but with a cast led by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston, and Martin Sheen, it is anything but shallow. The good news here is that it is actually a well rounded story of two families, and relationship issues as we age. It is not shallow, slapstick, predictable, or derogatory toward us or our gay spouses.
Yes. It is safe for most of us to watch it. Some of us can binge watch, some of us can take it in small pieces. But all of us should look at it when we are at a point in our healing where we can do that.
We Are Familee
Many straight spouses who have connected to support through the Straight Spouse Network will recognize the situation of suddenly being at the end of a marriage which no one else understands except another heterosexual person who has experienced being married to an LGBT spouse. We may have that in common, but we are all radically different people, from diverse backgrounds, cultures, opinions, tastes, and interests. We call the friendships we form with each other “familee“. Grace and Frankie are very different people – they don’t even really like each other – but they become familee for each other, despite their differences.
The program has a general appeal, because it explores relationships with adult kids, the awkwardness of dating in your 70s (even when you look as good as Jane Fonda) and the process of moving forward. We also recognize the disingenuous surprise shown by the gay husbands that this is a lot more difficult for their wives than they expected it would be. Some of us recognize the tension that results for our gay spouses in the new relationship when they remain friendly and connected with us.
It’s good news for straight spouses and mixed orientation families that this series has been renewed. For once, there is a quality light hearted program that does not reinforce stereotypes or cast us as angry fools, or victims to be blamed, or portray our gay spouses as swishy guys who are either heroes or despicable villains. The characters are fully developed human beings with complicated relationships. And suddenly, people who watch this show are realizing that they know someone this happened to….and recognizing that we are not alone.
And oh yes – there IS a support group for that. And it isn’t limited to women in their 70s. Its for men and women of all ages, cultures, and races to share our stories and our strengths.
Some of us might feel some envy at the first episode – the husbands disclose their homosexual relationship. Many of us have experienced discovery and denial, but not disclosure. It would be wonderful if Grace and Frankie connect with other straight spouses in future episodes, and maybe find the humor in life with a husband who says he isn’t gay, he just likes having sex with men. For many in that situation, the lack of affirmation and appreciation for honesty is devastating.
As for dating, if they are like many of us, the real Grace or Frankie might actually wind up dating men whose wives left them for other women. We know full well that some of those relationships result in wedding bells, some of which have been shared at our gatherings.
We are looking forward to a second season of Grace and Frankie on Netflix, and getting to know these characters better.