Puns About Age Disgust Me
by DICK CHENEY
Grace and Frankie
creators Marta Kauffman & Howard J. Morris
You know who should play an innocent grandmother who can barely do anything for herself now that her husband left her? Jane Fonda.
The concept of Jane Fonda being a helpless woman for more than five minutes irritates the very fabric of my being. I once saw Jane Fonda execute two men in cold blood because they touted the virtues of capitalism. Now I have to listen to her make jokes about she’s not very good at texting, even though texting is only typing.
It used to be that women were relegated to jobs where the only skill they were permitted to display was their typing acumen. Now we are making jokes about women not even being able to type. This is absurd; every woman can type — they are born knowing how.
Comedy about how older people are helpless about technology is the lowest kind of humor. Actually, it is the second lowest, after jokes about how African-Americans appear white if they live in the suburbs. This bargain-bin brand of satire gives me a headache, and if I am being honest, there is no one more responsible than the people doing long lasting harm to the idea of homosexual parenting: the show-runners of Modern Family.
Here Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are also playing against type, as gay law partners who end their marriages to their wives. The only person not playing against type is Lily Tomlin, who portrays the dumb stereotype of the hippie woman so lazily that you could be forgiven for thinking Grace and Frankie is just a Saturday Night Live sketch someone found in Lorne Michaels’ basement.
Tomlin has never been much of an actress, but she is especially execrable on Grace and Frankie. She burns incense and takes peyote in what would seem like a bad parody of Meet the Parents if you didn’t know show creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris were utterly serious about this offensive tripe.
Showtime has presented their own version of a comedy based around the idea that older people are out of touch in the tragically bad Happyish, which depicts Steve Coogan as unable to fathom twitter, as if it’s a concept so wild to send a grown man running in circles.
It’s almost worse in Grace and Frankie. The older men — Waterston’s face looks like a crumpled up candy bar wrapper – can easily navigate the new waters of technology. After all, the men managed the family finances for decades. One episode of Grace and Frankie concerns Waterston and Sheen cutting off their wives’ credit cards in other to discourage them from making large purchases. Waterston implies that at one point Lily Tomlin purchased a boat without his permission, which seems like it would end any marriage. But you know women!
Don’t worry that Grace and Frankie is just about white people and how darn silly they can be at times, especially when they are coming out of the closet. After all, around thirty five years ago, Frankie adopted a black child, who she named Nwabudike Bergstein. It is impossible to know exactly who this is most offensive to: Jews, African-Americans or comedy.
Nwabudike is the more responsible of Waterston and Tomlin’s children. Their other son Coyote Bergstein (an absolutely wretched Ethan Embry) is a recovering drug addict whose driver’s license has been suspended by the state of California. None of the children are very likeable, perhaps because if they were it would take attention away from the real stars here.
Fonda and Sheen have good chemistry together as a married couple, and they are the best performers on the show. Unfortunately they barely ever occupy the same space, being divorced as they are.
I just want to enjoy watching two guys with ample grey hair kissing each other, but this doesn’t happen often on Grace and Frankie, because deep inside your heart you know Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen are straight. And you know Jane Fonda is strong, feminine alpha woman. And you know Lily Tomlin belongs in a community theater.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.
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