Laughter After 60: Aging Actors Are Not Afraid to Show Off Their Wrinkles
After watching the first few episodes of The Kominsky Method, the new hit on Netflix, I’ve surrendered to binge watching. I love watching the two great actors, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, as they share their older, wrinkled faces and show us the humor in problems we might just identify with.
It’s not that Hollywood hasn’t had its great old actors who kept filming well into their 80s. But having great actors who can joke about the vulnerabilities that come with age in such an easily digestible format? That’s different and fun.
Older Men Can Be Sexy and Fun
Michael Douglas, 74, looks his age. He’s weathered cancer, life challenges, and he’s wearing his wrinkles. They haven’t stopped him, however, from still looking sexy.
His partner in laughs, Alan Arkin, shows no signs of slowing at 84. His face, which has always looked a bit old and wise to me, doesn’t appear to have changed much with age. He brings a dry, edgy wit to the show, where he plays Norman Newlander, a bereaved widower and affluent head of a Hollywood talent agency.
He makes a great contrarian partner for Douglas’s still-looking-for-love character, Sandy Kominsky, an actor and acting coach who’s been Newlander’s client for years.
Nancy Travis, 57, portrays Douglas’ romantic interest, the first “older woman” he has fallen for. Who says beautiful actresses have to look 35? Travis proves that looking a little older can be hot.
Finding Humor in the Difficult Times
The real breakthrough in the Kominsky Method movie is their use of humor to address the tough stuff that can come with aging, including things that we often try to hide like losing a beloved spouse, prostate problems, bladder difficulties, facing the threat of cancer, feeling invisible, and taking Cialis.
I find myself punctuating my laughter with an occasional sprinkle of tears as the show zigs between being hilarious and being tender.
Do Older Women Have the Same Freedom?
Another older comic duo, Jane Fonda and Lili Tomlin, have shown us the humor in getting older with four seasons of their hit show on Amazon Prime, Frankie and Grace.
Customized vibrators for older women? First dates after many years of marriage? Issues like leaving a business you created and trouble with grown children? Gay marriage?
Yet, Fonda, 80, and Tomlin, 79, are not as willing to share their wrinkles. Jane Fonda, bless her, has been honest about fixing her face in order to continue to act in Hollywood’s you-gotta-be-young culture. I assume Tomlin has been altered as well.
It seems the English are ahead of us in honoring their aging actresses. The great Maggie Smith, 83, Judi Dench, 83, and Vanessa Redgrave, 81, have shown us what aging with class – and even a few wrinkles – can look like. Comparatively, at 73, Helen Mirren looks like a babe.
We may have a long way to go till sexism is eliminated from Hollywood – but we can still have fun watching those amazing shows. So, go send some love to The Kominsky Method; it’s smart, it’s funny, and it shows that being older can also be a hoot.
What are your favorite shows featuring aging actors or actresses? What do you think is their outlook on life? Let’s chat TV shows in the comments below!