Follow TV Tropes


Series / State of Grace

Go To

State of Grace was a show that aired on Fox/ ABC Family from 2001-2002. It concerned the friendship of Grace McKee and Hannah Rayburn (Mae Whitman and Alia Shawkat), two twelve-year-old girls coming of age in The '60s (1965-66, to be exact). Grace is a blonde, Southern Catholic girl. Hannah, who moved with her family from Chicago to Grace's fictitious town of Ashmore, North Carolina, is a brunette Jewish Yankee. The series centered on the comic and tragic moments of their friendship and family lives in a similar format to The Wonder Years.

Tropes include:

  • All Girls Like Ponies: Grace has a beloved horse.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Hannah has a crush on Grace's older half-brother, Walker, who's a known troublemaker.
  • Alter Kocker: Hannah's maternal grandma, Grandma Ida, who lives with the family, is Russian Jewish. She has a typical Yiddish accent and uses Yiddish colloquialisms from time to time.
  • Beehive Hairdo: Hannah's mom has a downplayed one. Grace wore the same 'do in one episode, and in Season One's "Love, Love Me Do," Hannah got a full-size beehive.
  • Children Raise You: Grace is often the one who takes the brunt of her flighty mother Tattie's immature behavior. Grace's presence often gets Tattie to settle down and act like a mom.
  • Comfort Food: Grandma Ida makes a lot of this, and it is darn good. Honorable mention to her blintzes.
  • Cool Aunt: Hannah's Aunt Sophie, who inspires her to become a writer.
  • Cool Old Lady: The Reverend Mother, when Hannah makes an impassioned speech and protests against the new uniforms Sister Winters forced them all to wear The Reverend Mother who was visiting intervenes on her behalf and reveals she was a suffragette that was arrested and went on a hunger strike decades before to fight for women getting the right to vote.
  • Cool Uncle: Hannah's Uncle Heschie (Herschel), her mom's younger brother, who according to Hannah is the one who always made time to play with her.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: This happens to Hannah when her dad doesn't show up for a father-daughter pancake breakfast at school. To make it even worse, the first time she mentions it, he thinks the breakfast already happened and he forgot. When Hannah clarifies, Dad promises to come—only to get so wrapped up in furniture design that he falls asleep at his desk and misses the event. The irony is, he was working on a line of children's furniture named for Hannah.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Adult Hannah has her moments.
  • Disappeared Dad: Grace's dad died when she was six. Tattie has been through many temporary boyfriends since then.
  • Discreet Dining Disposal: The ladies in a book club Hannah's mother attends do this with Grandma Ida's kishka, which is a dish of cow intestine, stuffed with herbs and spices.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: One of the things Hannah and Grace learn while attending a cotillion class.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Possibly the reason, if you could call it that, for Grandma Kiki's dislike of Jews.
  • Femme Fatale: Tattie, Tattie, Tattie... Somewhat downplayed, though.
  • Freudian Excuse: A lot of characters are implied to have versions of these; they just weren't acknowledged as such during the time period.
  • Freudian Slip: Hannah makes one when, distraught over her mother's frequent travel and her favorite teacher leaving the school, she breaks down and spills her guts to Dad. She says "Mom's my favorite teacher," rather than "Sister Celine," revealing she's more upset about Mom than the teacher.
  • Hidden Depths: Grace's half-brother, Walker. When he gets expelled from prep school (again), everyone assumes it was because he snuck out of his dorm to meet a girl. However, when Tattie confronts him, she finds out that the reason he'd been sneaking out was to play piano at a local jazz club. She subsequently agrees to finance his tenure at a musically-oriented school, in exchange for his promise to behave like a model student. Also, Uncle Heschie, whose innocence and Manchild behavior sometimes hide a very perceptive man.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The book club ladies have a downplayed version of this reaction when Hannah's mother explains what kishka actually is. Hannah has a similar reaction when, on her first day at her new school, she's pressured into eating ham despite her family's keeping kosher, and vomits.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Played painfully straight with an unnamed intellectually disabled burger joint worker in one episode, the only character with a disability to appear on the show. Justified in that it's *The '60s, but still.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Hannah, who is introverted, a good student, and keeps a journal.
  • Jewish Mother: Hannah's mom and Grandma Ida both qualify.
  • Mama Bear: Tattie. Do not EVER mess with Grace around her. Hannah sort of becomes this with Grace, when she's the only one there to sit with her friend after an emergency appendectomy, and the nurse tries to keep Hannah out of the hospital room. Grandma Ida can be this as well.
  • Manchild: Uncle Heschie, who at twenty-nine still lives in the same house with his mother, and exhibits some childlike qualities. For example, when Mom forbids Hannah to see The Birds, on the grounds that she once became terrified at the Flying Monkeys scene of The Wizard of Oz, it's Heschie who shudders.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother's constant travel in season two sometimes had Hannah feeling she possessed one of these. Grace has had periods of this because Tattie is somewhat fond of jetting off to Europe for extended periods.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Grandma Ida gets hit with this. No one in the family is available to take her on errands, so Tattie volunteers her Black chauffeur Greer. Ida adamantly refuses to accept rides from him because she feels uncomfortable with the socioeconomic implications, but Greer assumes she's racist. Thankfully, this gets cleared up when both Ida and Greer end up waiting for Evelyn to get ready for a drive. They share a cup of coffee and discuss the similarities between being Black and Jewish in oppressive environments. It becomes a Heartwarming Moment.
  • My Beloved Smother: Hannah's mother. On Hannah's first day at her new school, Mom sent her in with a bunch of notes explaining exactly what she wasn't allowed to do or eat. Hannah is pressured to ignore the notes; they end up floating in a pool.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: All the episodes contain a voiceover by Adult Hannah.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Of the horrific variety. Hannah is forced to wear a fluffy pink dress, which she calls "the dress from hell" to a party she attends with her parents.
  • Proper Lady: What Tattie attempts to turn Grace into, much to her consternation. It's also what Hannah seems to want to be, at least for the duration of the cotillion episode.
  • Racist Grandma: Grace's Grandma Kiki, Tattie's mother, who openly expresses her prejudice against Jews and causes a rift in Grace and Hannah's friendship. Grace blows her top at Grandma and threatens to move in with Hannah and convert to Judaism, but Tattie helps fix things when she stands up to Kiki.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grace gives one to Sister Winters over her insistence on ultra-conservative dress at school. In another episode, she hands one to Grandma Kiki, over her prejudice against Jewish people. Hannah indirectly hands one to her own dad. Having written an essay that idealizes him for the father-daughter pancake breakfast, she writes the truth after he doesn't show up. Dad reads it, and although he doesn't change overnight, he does eventually acknowledge that he didn't spend enough time with his daughter while she was growing up.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Grace is Red, Hannah is Blue.
  • Southern Belle: Tattie.
  • Standard '50s Father: David Rayburn, Hannah's dad, whose major way of showing love to his family seems to be providing for them. It's worth noting, though, that he doesn't fit all the characteristics. For example, he was never a veteran, but he was a Holocaust survivor.
  • Stern Nun: Sister Winters, especially when it comes to how the girls at her school dress. Averted with Sister Celine, everyone's favorite French teacher, who leaves the order to move to Paris and marry a pastry chef.
  • The '60s: The entire show takes place in this decade.
  • There Are No Therapists: Played straight when Hannah discusses some parts of the sixties, before modern theories of parenting existed. Subverted when Tattie goes to a psychiatrist because it's a fad, then decides she doesn't need him.
  • Title Drop: Hannah does it in season one's episode "The Force of Fun."
  • Wicked Stepmother: Grace fears having to endure this when Tattie announces her intention to marry beau Tommy Austin in season two.
  • Wonder Child: Evelyn and Heschie's brother Larry, who is apparently perfect and makes Hannah's father bitterly jealous when Hannah's mother consults him, and not her husband, over a business decision.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: After Grandma Kiki tells a racist story in front of Hannah, not knowing she's Jewish, Tattie pulls Grandma aside and reams her out for it; then Grandma makes comments about how she thought Hannah was Black Irish and how "kinky" her hair is in front of the Black family maid Cookie, who is very shocked.