We are a world obsessed with youth. We don’t respect our elders, we respect women with taught thighs and wrinkle-free faces.
In fact, after a quick visit to your local chemist you’d think we are terrified of becoming old. There you will find shelves bowing under the weight of thousands of products designed to fill, repair, renew and rewind. Miracle formulas, powerful concentrates, serums and balms for rejuvenating and re-plumping our sagging skin.
When it comes to ageing in 2016, the focus is all on the way we look, and our attitude is all about prevention. But it shouldn’t be.
There are laughs to be had, tears to be shed and lessons to be learned from the older generation, if only we’d put down our anti-wrinkle cream for a minute and listen. And TV has an important part to play in that.
Recent reality show The Real Marigold Hotel proved the over 60s, with their anecdotes, outlooks and opinions decades in the making, are far more interesting and engaging than Big Brother’s vapid, fame-hungry youngsters. There’s Boomers and Last Tango in Halifax, the latter following a late in life romance and enjoying critical acclaim for bucking the trend.
And then there’s Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. We’re used to sitcoms about pretty, perky 20 and 30-somethings figuring out who they are and laying the foundations for their futures. Think Friends, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother. But this comedy, written by Friends co-creator Marta Kaufmann, is different.
It follows Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), two women who find themselves having to start all over again when their respective retired husbands announce that they are in love with each other. The main cast, which incidentally has an average age of 76, is funny and vibrant. Their characters are rounded and warm with thoughts, desires, dreams. They smoke pot, dabble in online dating and try to figure out who they are and what they want.
It might not be aimed at 20-somethings like me, but I’ve enjoyed it more than plenty of other TV shows targeted at my age group.
The media would have us believe all millennials are anxious and stressed, scared of getting life wrong and terrified of making mistakes that’ll mess up perfectly planned life goals and career progression. Whether or not that’s a reality, it’s true my friends and I are rushing through ’30 before 30′ lists like we won’t see 31.
But we need to shift our perspective, to relieve the pressure, to realise that our ‘youth’ isn’t the be all and end all. At the risk of sounding like a motivational poster, we’re on a journey and TV like Grace and Frankie is an important reminder. Not that life begins at 30, 40, 50 or even 60, but that it continues. That we’ll carry on learning and growing and changing, making mistakes, finding love, being funny and sexy and clever and all the things we want to be.
Having older role models on the telly is a reminder that, unlike glossy magazines, ‘aspirational’ Instagram accounts and eye cream adverts want us to think, life is far from over the day you wake up with crows feet.
(FYI science also says the more positively we approach ageing the better and slower we will age, so really this is a win win.)
Grace and Frankie season two is available now on Netflix