Ageing Gracefully

Maybe it’s a bit strange for me to be annoyed by ageism. After all, beyond some underestimation I haven’t been subject to ageist behavior. But I head forward into this discussion with the firm belief that people can support causes that don’t affect them. Men can be feminists, after all. That said…

I just started watching Grace and Frankie, and it is phenomenal. I won’t go into much detail about it, beyond that its four main stars are all older (about the age of retirement, with grandkids). I wasn’t even two minutes into the first episode when I realized how strange that was, and how strange it was that it was strange.

Older people are nearly never the stars. They’re mentors, sure, crazy grandparents, side characters, teachers. Mr. Miagis, Dumbledores, Professor Xs, etc. Why must the protagonist always be young and spritely? The oldest Disney Princess is Elsa at 21. Luke Skywalker started at 19. Harry Potter started at 11!

Well, there’s a lot of reasons. We like the hero’s story. We love a good bildungsroman (fancy German word for “coming of age story”). It’s more interesting to see people fall in love than continue to be in love, just like how it’s interesting to see people get a job rather than retire. How many shows start with someone getting a new job, or moving to a new place after college, or getting engaged? Beginnings are simply more interesting than ends.

But life doesn’t just ride on a happy ending after you turn 30. Life just keeps happening. There is no happy ending to wrap it all up; it just keeps going. Why is it so hard to imagine an older person going through an exciting story as the protagonist?

Well, let me tell you: Grace and Frankie have an interesting story, and they’re genuinely funny as well. They made me realize that we may need to invent a Bechdel test for people over fifty. Two people, over fifty, with names, have a conversation about something other than how old they are. Surely, that’s a hard bill to fit.

I guess this hits me hard because I just ended another year of college and am about to end my 6-month internship, and it feels like a sort of graduation. A place where movies end, but life does not. Or maybe it’s because I’m salty about not being a teenager anymore. Either way, I think it’s important to teach people that you don’t get a happily ever after. You just get more life.

I think that’s a positive thing. To live always happily would be to live quite a boring life.

Anyhow, yes. I vote we end age discrimination as well as all the other discriminations we’re already fighting to end. I think it’s just as important, for people of all ages. Some people may say, “Oh, they’ve had their chance at the spotlight.” But I don’t think the spotlight cares about wrinkles. It cares about people deserving of attention, and that could be anyone.

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9 thoughts on “Ageing Gracefully

  1. I’ll have to watch this show, I’ve heard it’s fantastic! And ageism isn’t limited to older folks. I’ve definitely experienced ageism at my job, being significantly younger than my co-workers presents its own challenges, like a lack of respect and addressing me with words like “buddy” and sweetie”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that show! Maybe I didn’t find it as weird as I grew up watching those actors, but it did make me yearn for more concentrated collections of talent like that.

    And you are 100% correct, a problem does not have to affect you personally, though this is one that will get us all eventually. But change never happens without allies. Good for you for seeing it.

    Also Lily Tomlin might be one of the funniest humans ever to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was your age, I don’t think I was concerned about whether old people were getting a fair shake. Well, maybe I was, but now I’m too old and can’t remember.

    Like

  4. I agree! We should all be salty!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hilarious show, and the reason my kitten’s name is Frankie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The INFJ Living With an Extroverted Cat Named JemmiLooLoo

    Love that show!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Saw this on Netflix. Will have to give it a shot.

    Age discrimination is truly a sad thing. And it seems to start earlier and earlier (or maybe I’m getting older and noticing it more). We have so much to learn from those that blazed the paths we may now easily walk along.

    Liked by 2 people

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