Not too long ago, I was hanging out with my mom and we ended up watching the first two episodes of a show called Grace and Frankie. It brought up memories and with those memories, came some heavier than average feelings. I’ve already written and rewritten this article about seven times. It hasn’t been easy so I’m just going to talk about what I saw, what it reminded me of, and how that made me feel in that order.
Please keep in mind I only watched two episodes of the show and that was about a month ago so I apologize in advance if I get anything wrong. Grace and Frankie is a comedy about two women named Grace and Frankie (go figure). They are in the prime of their lives and what I mean by that is that if they aren’t already AARP members, they will be very soon. They’re both currently going through divorces but what really brings them together is the fact that their husbands left them for each other. The two episodes mainly focused on the shock these two women were going through due to both their divorces and the fact that they’re just now learning that their soon to be ex-husbands are gay. For me, the plot felt very familiar.
My parents divorced when I was in fourth grade. It was one of the most difficult moments in my life but it was about to get way more complicated. It was at a group therapy session for my mom, my sister, and myself that I learned my parents were getting divorced, in part, because the person who fathered me was trans. Her name was Rachel and I will refer to her as such for the remainder of this article since, “Dad,” is obviously wrong and I never really got the chance to know her as a second mother. To me, the idea that someone who appears as a boy could feel like a girl felt normal. As a child, I wanted to be like Indiana Jones but I wanted to be Lara Croft. The majority of people, however, treated this as a bad thing. This was circa 2000-2001 and while trans people don’t have it great now, it was significantly worse back then. To most onlookers, the tragedy wasn’t that my parents were getting divorced. The tragedy was that my “father,” was a “freak”. That was the common consensus between my parents’ divorce and the time of Rachel’s death about five years later.
The show made me think about all of this as the experiences of the characters largely mirror my own. What the main characters went through, while not identical, was painfully similar to what my mom went through. She, too, felt shocked, betrayed, and lied to. It was never Rachel’s identity that was the problem to her but rather that Rachel kept something so important from her for so long. The reactions of the show’s namesake characters were similar to my mother’s. Many of the periphery characters started out acting like the gay people being gay was the problem which made me incredibly angry at the show until I remembered how realistic that reaction is. But that’s the thing. Their identity was never the problem. Rachel’s identity was never the problem. My identity has never been the problem. The problem is how people treat us based on our identities. This show, for me, is all too painful of a reminder of that.
Grace and Frankie isn’t 100% accurate. The show’s writers have clearly never tried peyote because it doesn’t work that way. It is very accurate where it counts, though. All and all, Grace and Frankie is an incredibly well-done show that gets a little too real for me. I have no intention of watching any more episodes. It just makes me think about things I don’t want to think about. I’m not the target audience, anyway, so it’s not like they’re losing anything. Basically, Grace and Frankie is the best show that I never want to see again.
1. “The End.” Grace and Frankie, season 1, episode 1, Netflix, 8 May 2015, Netflix app.
2. “The Credit Cards.” Grace and Frankie, season 1, episode 2, Netflix, 8 May 2015, Netflix app.