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Netflix goes after the gray-hair set with next original series

Netflix's latest original series order is for "Grace and Frankie," a comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, as the streaming-video service fills out its slate with shows designed to appeal to varying demographics.

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Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
Netflix
Netflix
Netflix has added a comedy to its original-series slate, and it's more likely to resonate with a Boomer than anyone junior.

"Grace and Frankie" stars actresses Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin -- who played off each other in the 1980 workplace/women-empowerment comedy "9 to 5" -- and was created by Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of "Friends," and Howard J. Morris, another longtime TV producer.

It follows Netflix's order for an original series based on the adventures of Marco Polo, underscoring the company's deliberate efforts to appeal to varying demographics. The Marco Polo program, which is being shot in Malaysia with an international cast, shores up Netflix with programming designed to appeal to viewers abroad, where the company is pouring investment to expand.

"Grace and Frankie," which casts lead actresses in their 70s as two longtime rivals whose respective husbands decide they're in love and will get married, has its most direct appeal for an audience older than the one typically thought of as avid fans of Internet-delivered television. Though younger viewers are more likely to get more video online, Netflix's reach with mainstream US consumers gives it access to diverse demographic groups. "Grace and Frankie" is a clear play to heighten Netflix's direct appeal to one of those groups.

Netflix culls its ocean of data to predict genres and programming angles that have a built-in audience in their subscribership.

The 13-episode season of half-hour shows is being made by Skydance Productions. The company didn't provide details of the timing of shooting for "Grace and Frankie" or of when it would become available for Netflix subscribers.