Grace & Frankie aren’t “a little bit gay”

In an Autostraddle article about season 3 of Grace & Frankie, writer “Erin” argues that “everyone is a little bit gay,” in the context of arguing that because Grace & Frankie get a little flirty sometimes, that means they are in actual love with each other.

*Some small spoilers but nothing major*

“Here’s the thing — everyone IS a little gay. I honestly believe this. The time has come for us to get real with each other about this brave new world we’re in where for many women, at least, sexuality is accepted as more fluid than ever before, and only 48% of teens ages 13-20 identify as exclusively heterosexual and only 65% of millennials identify as exclusively heterosexual. The human capacity for being a little gay is, quite frankly, tremendous. I see no legitimate reason why Grace and Frankie could not be bisexual women in love with each other on a show that already has a gay couple on it.”

Erin then goes on to list a bunch of things that Grace & Frankie do or say in season 3 that supposedly implies they are gay for each other. Some of the items on this list don’t come anywhere close to proving they feel anything beyond friendship for each other, such as Grace saying “We’re never getting chickens” or Frankie saying “We would never have a gun.” Some of the items are from scenes where there is silly flirtatious behavior between the two women, such as when Frankie insists on sleeping in Grace’s bed or when Grace is crawling over Frankie, who says “You know, you are a striking woman.” I am not all the way through season 3, but I saw those scenes and they are not at all implications that the two are romantically interested in each other.

The scene where Frankie wants to sleep in Grace’s bed has some funny jokes in it, but Frankie is just scared because of the break-in and wants some comfort. She is not there for sexual or romantic reasons at all. Grace is absolutely furious that Frankie wants to sleep with her and wants her to go away as soon as possible. There is absolutely nothing lesbian about this.

When Grace is crawling over Frankie, they are both trying to deal with having sore backs and trying to get up off the floor, and it’s just a silly moment.

There is actually no such thing as being “a little bit gay.” You are either exclusively attracted to the same sex or you aren’t. If you aren’t exclusively attracted to the same sex then you aren’t gay. Grace and Frankie have been established to be heterosexual women throughout the entire show.

There’s a lot of things I don’t like about Autostraddle, and one of them is their tendency to read into everything every character does on a TV show and declare it “gay” or “queer.”

The truth is, when straight women develop close friendships with each other, when they sleep in the same bed once because they’re feeling anxious, when they crack jokes with each other, and when they work together and spend time together, they are not being “a little bit gay.” This is just normal friend behavior. There is nothing “gay” or “queer” about straight women friends. It’s good and healthy and life-giving for straight women to nurture close friendships with each other. If women are genuinely romantically and sexually attracted to women and men, they are bisexual, and that’s okay too, but that’s not what’s going on in this show.

The reason Grace and Frankie is such a popular show with women is because we love seeing a pair of women friends doing their own thing and spending time together without their husbands around. It’s refreshing and lovely to see this in a world where women are so often putting their energy into men. My partner and I have loved season 3 so far.

Grace and Frankie are an awesome and hilarious pair of women friends, and this show is appealing to women of all sexual orientations, because we love female friendship, we love shows that pass the Bechdel test, and many of the storylines in the show are women-centered. But having women friends doesn’t make women “gay,” and this is ridiculous to suggest.