I don’t know a single FabOverFifty woman, or any woman, who didn’t love Grace and Frankie, the Netflix series with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Yet, Hollywood continues to turn a “blind eye to our demographic,” claims Caytha Jentis, a screenwriter, director and producer determined to show “Hollywood” why it’s making a big, bad mistake. Her new series, The Other F Word, is a coming-of-age character driven comedy about four women friends “dealing with midlife highs and lows.” If it succeeds, Caytha hopes it will pave the way for more stories about women our age.
I adored watching The Other F Word and wanted to share it with all my FOFriends. My interview with Caytha will tell you more about her inspirations behind the series.
Tell us a little about yourself and your entertainment background.
“I’m 54 years old and have a BS from Syracuse University in television and film and an MFA from UCLA in screenwriting. I grew up in Scarsdale, NY, and am married with two children. We raised the children in suburban New Jersey and moved back to New York City when they were grown. Our post-grad daughter now lives with us.
“I started as a literary agent in New York City, selling the film rights of books, as well as representing journalists and screenwriters. Later, we moved to Los Angeles, where I worked as an agent, then for a producer, and got my graduate degree in screenwriting. After selling a script to ABC, and having kids, we moved back east, where I continued to work in various part-time sales careers. I started making independent films 10 years ago. This essay will tell you about my journey.”
Give us a synopsis of The Other F Word and what led you to create it.
“The Other F Word is a dramatic comedy about four women friends in midlife that addresses issues like empty-nesting, re-entering the workforce, sexuality, dating after divorce/widowhood and more. At its heart, the series is about friendship and finding oneself– an adult coming-of-age in mid-life story.
“I noticed so many changes happening at this chapter of life that seemed ripe for episodic exploration. I fashioned it more around Girls than Sex and the City as it’s less about finding prince charming and more about finding oneself.
What do you wish to accomplish with The Other F Word?
“I want to create an entertaining series that shines a light on the experiences and journeys of women in midlife. A show for us. It’s a chapter of life that is grossly under-represented in episodic television.”
How do YOU feel about being 54, personally and professionally?
“It is what it is. Turning 50 was pretty traumatic, I must admit, but now that I’m on the other side I find it a very freeing time. I use the hashtags #nofear #noregrets to describe the other side of 50. I do believe that I look and feel better than ever, but there are signs of aging – internally and externally- that I have to come to terms with. But, all in all I’m having a lot of fun, and fun never gets old.”
Do you think 20-and 30-something women can learn something from The Other F Word?
“I believe that many of the story lines that I introduce are universal.
Where did you get the inspiration for the women? Are they based on real women you know, or is each one a compilation of women?
“I think each character is an extension of me and women I know. I also read a lot of blogs so I could validate that these characters are dealing with issues that others are experiencing.”
Do you have a favorite character from the show? Who and why is she your favorite?
“That’s like asking ‘who’s your favorite child?’ The first season, as we were limited on time, mostly focuses on Amy’s journey as a happily married, stay-at-home mom, whose life is majorly changed when her husband unexpectedly leaves her for the Peace Corps. I wanted his midlife crisis act to be charitable so it’s somewhat grey. Amy and her husband met when they were young, and now they complete each other’s sentences. I wanted to give them a year where they are challenged to complete a whole sentence metaphorically, and then we’ll see what happens after a year.
“I’ve been told that Amy’s story is relatable to women even if they don’t walk in her shoes. While the three other women are just briefly introduced, each will have her own complex and dramatic journey, rich with humor, in future seasons.”
What’s been the reaction to the series so far?
“I’ve been overwhelmed by how positively the show is being received. It really is connecting with people of all ages and genders.”
Did I leave out anything that you’d like to discuss?
“When pitching this project as a traditional show, while I knew the impossible odds of selling it, I was blind-sided by one of the main reasons it was dismissed – blatant ageism. I was repeatedly told that while the script was good, the audience is a ‘tough demographic,’ which we know is simply not true.
“Encouraged by allies in the industry, I took my wrath to the web, the new frontier to create episodic stories. Season One was produced on a micro budget, with a team of ‘believers’.” in the hopes that if the show is well received and can cultivate an audience, it will attract financing for more episodes.
“The Other F Word is my most personal project as I really do believe our stories matter and want to see them live on not only for me, but for all my midlife sisters in arms. To learn more about the project, please visit our website.”