New Netflix Series Reunites ‘9 to 5’ Stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda

By  · Published on March 20th, 2014

9 to 5 tomlin and fonda

20th Century Fox

If you read the headline above and didn’t immediately ask out loud, “What about Dolly Parton?” then congratulations to you, because it must be so wonderful to be so young. Except for the part where you’re unfamiliar with one of the most delightful movies ever made, that is. 34 years ago, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Parton were brought together for a cartoonish feminism comedy called 9 to 5, about three women who take revenge on their sleazy chauvinist boss, played by the amazing Dabney Coleman. I’m certain that it was this movie that steered me on the right path as a man, both in terms of respecting the opposite sex and in my appreciation of catchy ’80s country music. If you’ve never seen it, go drop three bucks and stream it right now on Amazon. Then return to this post and get excited with me.

Aside from their appearing together again in some comedy specials long ago, a newly announced Netflix series will be the first time Tomlin and Fonda are together since that kitschy classic, which was the top-grossing movie of 1980 after The Empire Strikes Back. They’ll co-star as the title characters of Grace and Frankie, two more women brought together after each has been done wrong by a man. Here it’s their respective husbands, who leave them for each other. Before the gay pairing of their spouses, Grace and Frankie are actually enemies. It’s like The First Wives Club but it’s really just “The Wives Club” because they’ve been replaced by husbands, not new brides (I’m also reminded of the upcoming movie The Other Woman). Producers have to already be in negotiations to have Parton at least guest star, or they’re idiots. If they’re amazing, they’ll actually manage to hire the singer for the theme song.

And what of Coleman? I’d love to see him as one of the husbands. But obviously I’m getting ahead of myself with the desire for this show to just be a total 9 to 5 reunion – minus the many supporting players who’ve since deceased. Why? There was already a successful TV series based on the movie, albeit with a new cast (including Jeffrey Tambor perfectly picked to sub in for Coleman). There was also a Broadway musical a few years ago. But that original 1980 ensemble, which had remarkably fun chemistry, is what I want back together, for good reason. A year later we saw Fonda and Coleman do well again together, this time as a couple, in On Golden Pond. But while wanting to see compatible actors together is understandable, it doesn’t always go well. Parton, Tomlin and Coleman were all in The Beverly Hillbillies, for instance.

The trio of Tomlin, Fonda and Parton, though, have only been reunited for events like the musical’s premiere and the launch of the movie’s 25th anniversary DVD. And they always seem to still enjoy each other during photo ops.. It’s time I get to enjoy them all together, too. Of course, it’ll also be nice if the show is decent on its own.

There’s no display of that trio’s chemistry here, but check out how awesome the original 9 to 5 trailer was:

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.