With the return of Netflix’s Grace & Frankie on May 6, it’s hard not to appreciate the presence of its two stars, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Both are award-winning actors with long-running careers. Both just so happen to be, ahem, women of a certain age.
And if either had the power, they would get rid of that label (“of a certain age”) altogether. “I hate the phrase,” Fonda said in a discussion hosted by Gayle King at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on Thursday.
“Just say how old we are. I'm 78,” the actress said to a cheer from a cheer of women in the crowd before announcing her own age. Funnily enough, Tomlin stumbled over revealing how old she is, having to think -- or pause for dry, comedic effect. She’s 76.
“I remember when I was 75,” Tomlin later deadpanned. “It was a great time, wasn’t it?”
Jokes aside -- and there were plenty between the two -- Fonda lambasted a cultural fear of growing older. “When you look at it from the outside, it’s terrifying,” she said, “but when you're smack dab in the middle, it’s not scary. In fact, it's better.”
“It's hard to be young. I’m so sorry for all of you who are young,” Fonda said to the audience, with Tomlin adding: "I pity you."
“I’m certainly not so terrified by it,” Tomlin added, citing Charlotte Rampling, 70, as an example of repose. “I find that I’m taking [her] tact.”
Rampling just so happened to be the oldest female nominated for Best Actress at the 2016 Oscars by nearly 25 years. Cate Blanchett, 46, was the second oldest among a pool of mostly 20-somethings. She was also the only female lead on the hit BCC miniseries, London Spy, which debuted in January.
She, like the Grace & Frankie stars and Judith Light of Transparent and Ellen Barkin of the upcoming Animal Kingdom, represent the few, older female leads on TV.
Light, in particular, made headlines with her on-screen orgasm, courtesy of a few masterful fingers from her ex-partner. “We don’t see sex between people of our ages on television, and so many outlets in the TV world will tell you that the only thing that is really important is the demographic from 18 to 49,” she told ET in December. “But we’re seeing that our audience is telling us that is not so. If you do something intimate and powerful and truthful and groundbreaking, they want to see it.”
Even Tomlin somewhat lamented, if not jokingly, that she has yet to have sex on-screen, despite both her and Fonda’s sexually-active characters. “Notice they didn’t give me a love scene,” she dryly said before revealing that the new season will come with a “DVO.”
“Deep vaginal orgasm,” she explained.