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Grace And Frankie's Sex Toy Biz Is Fun And Empowering (But Not Fully Accurate!)

Photo: Netflix
grace and frankie senior sexuality
Buzz, Sex

Why this fun take on senior sexuality is SO darn important.

Fans of the Netflix hit Grace and Frankie are in for some good vibrations, as Season 3 has finally arrived!

For those of you who watched Season 2, you know that the ladies (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) are about to embark into the exciting world of selling sex toys specifically for elderly women who have issues like arthritis and sensitive vaginal tissue.

How hard could that be? Running an empowering sex toy business for older women should be easy, right?

It’s actually very challenging — as the ladies are about to discover.

With a variety of twists and turns in their personal lives, they have a lot of ground to cover this season with issues covering aging, sex, LGBT+ rights and of course health related topics.

Right now there is a lot of buzzzzzz about the sex toy featured in Season 3, and for those of you who want to know more such as to whether a sex toy like it really exists, read on but be warned … there are some spoilers below.

For binge watchers, you may have already worked your way through the entire third season this week and have been thinking about how lovely it might be to have a vibrator such as Grace and Frankie’s Vybrant Ménage à Moi in your own boudoir.

The good news is, sex toys with these features already exist!

In fact, there are many that far surpass the Ménage à Moi vibrator with a lot more features that cater to women of all ages — whether they are a mere twenty-five or seventy-five.

In real life, there are some drawbacks to the fictional Ménage à Moi vibrator that the writers of the show and audience may not realize ... especially for something that is supposedly so “cutting edge” for women over a certain age.

Here are the drawbacks of the Ménage à Moi compared to other real vibrators on the market today.

  • It is not waterproof, so no shower or tub use.
  • It requires batteries and is not rechargeable.
  • It cannot be inserted due to the position of the controls on the handle.
  • If it were able to be inserted, the phallus is overly large.
  • Its handle is made from jelly (elastomer) which is a porous material and known for harboring bacteria and being difficult to clean.
  • it is not made with medical-grade silicone, so it may contain phthalates which are known to cause health issues.
  • There are no special features to the vibration such as pulsing, escalation or Bluetooth compatibility for programming your own patterns.
  • It is not remote controlled or a hands-free sex toy.

The other faux pas in the show was that Grace and Frankie were shipping their vibrators with large return labels that said their company name “Vybrant” which is not a very discreet shipping method!

Any sex toy business worth their salt knows that customers who buy sexual products want a plain shipping box to keep their sex toy purchases on the down-low.

So as much as Grace and Frankie want to be the “Ben and Jerry’s of the vaginal stimulation” and got the interest of the fictional sex toy distributor “Purple Orchid” in the series, in real life, their product probably would not be perceived as anything terribly special by major distributors and manufacturers in the adult novelty industry or by customers for that matter when sex toys have advanced far more than what is featured in the show.

As for their business idea, sex toy manufacturing and sales is a highly competitive business and requires an understanding of patents, technological trends, sexual health needs, and how to navigate marketing an adult product in the world of mainstream media.

When Grace and Frankie indicate that they are struggling with how to market their business, that could not be more spot on in real life, because it is actually a very different and challenging marketing strategy that is needed.

Sexuality can push people’s morality buttons — not to mention it is classified as an adult business.

Throw in that this is tackling sexuality for seniors and you have an even bigger challenge which is demonstrated through the Purple Orchid company that pictures Grace and Frankie on the packaging in an overtly airbrushed way looking “twelve-years-old,” because, as the show indicates, even seniors don’t think of seniors as sexy.

Running their “old lady business” on their own terms and sexually empowering women is something that this type of business is challenged by ... even for the dynamic duo of Grace and Frankie.

The show also tackles some social issues around sex toys such as the episode with the “Bible Thumpers” outwardly shunning the vibrators but secretly wanting them.

"Vibrator jealousy" is also addressed when Frankie’s son Bud’s girlfriend uses the vibrator and he seems a bit jealous of the pleasure she receives from it.

This was a great issue to bring up, as many sex toy users worry that their use of such products will upset their partners.  

The show helps to demonstrate that not only can a partner also use them but they can bring couples closer together.

The show also explores the issues of sex toy designs being ripped off which is, in reality, a common issue. Even with patents in place, there are all kinds of knock-offs on the market and consumers are often unaware that such knock-offs are often made with cheaper parts that more easily break and in some cases contain toxic materials such as phthalates, lead, and even BPA.

With all the areas one could cover when it comes to the field of sexuality and the business of sex toys the show Grace and Frankie does a wonderful job using comedy as well as heartwarming connections between the characters.

So while the Ménage à Moi vibrator may not be cutting edge — the show certainly is. 

Lisa S. Lawless. Ph.D. is the founder and C.E.O. of Holistic Wisdom, Inc. which provides sexual health and wellness education, resources and products. To learn more about what are the latest developments in nontoxic sex toys visit – HolisticWisdom.com

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