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Will the "True Detective" Model Boost the Next Netflix Original Series?

When HBO first brought True Detective to subscribers, it had the benefit of star power in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The same dynamic could boost the fortunes of Grace and Frankie, a just-ordered Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) original series, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the following video.

The Hollywood Reporter says Friends creator Marta Kauffman is developing the comedy, which features Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as wives whose husbands declare their love for each other. Plans call for a 13-episode series order, putting Grace and Frankie in an increasingly diverse lineup of Netflix original series that includes not only acclaimed comedy Orange Is the New Black, but also four Marvel Comics-themed series, and the horror epic Hemlock Grove.

Star power isn't always a magic bullet in television, of course. Last month, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) unit NBCUniversal pulled the remaining episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show, effectively canceling the struggling series. Fonda and Tomlin may not fare any better.

And yet the difference here is that the show isn't just about them. Like True Detective, their presence adds heft to what fans and investors hope will be a great story -- a formula we've seen pay off not only at HBO, but also with Netflix original series House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey and Golden Globe winner Robin Wright. Comcast recently struck a deal with Sony to sell individual episodes of the first season via its Xfinity Store.

What should investors be watching for with Grace and Frankie? Buzz. Netflix original series don't bring in ad revenue. But if the show scores well with critics and builds an initial fan base, the ensuing buzz could entice those who've been on the fence to become members.

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Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (1)

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 12:21 PM, hectoruno wrote:

    I have been wondering about Lily Tomlin for awhile. She is on the comic level of Steve Martin. That being said she is lower on the star scale than Mathew McConaughey. I love Lily Tomlin and hope she gets to bring in her own comedy to the show.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 7:30 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    >>I love Lily Tomlin and hope she gets to bring in her own comedy to the show.

    I'm expecting as much, if only because creative freedom has always been one of the major attractions of working with HBO and Showtime. Netflix isn't any different.

    Also, having a 13-episode order in hand means that the showrunners can let both Tomlin and Fonda off the leash to play as much as they like. Can't wait to see what that produces on screen.

    Foolish best,



    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

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Tim Beyers

Tim Beyers first began writing for the Fool in 2003. Today, he's an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova. At, he covers disruptive ideas in technology and entertainment, though you'll most often find him writing and talking about the business of comics. Find him online at or send email to For more insights, follow Tim on Google+ and Twitter.

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