Grace and Frankie season 2 hit Netflix over the weekend and I watched all 13 episodes by late Sunday evening. My brief review is this: so damn good. A longer review follows, complete with some spoilers, so be aware.
The premise of Grace and Frankie is that two couples Grace and Robert (Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen) and Frankie and Sol (Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston), who have been friends for many years, break apart because the husbands have been lovers for 20 years. The men plan to marry each other. The wives, who don’t particularly like each other, are stuck as roommates in one of the family homes surviving the 2 divorces.
The two other important points to review from season one are that Frankie and Sol have sex right at the end of season 1. This action reverberates all through season 2. Sol, being Sol, must confess. The confession is delayed for some time by Robert’s heart attack, but there’s no stopping Sol when he needs to process.
Secondly, the yam lube Frankie is going to market with Grace’s old company from season 1 is an even bigger storyline in season 2. Grace’s daughter Brianna (June Diane Raphael) is running the company now, which gives her a bigger part than she had in season 1.
Grace and Frankie: what a helluva cast
In addition to the people I’ve already mentioned, Brooklyn Decker is back as Mallory – now pregnant with twins. Ethan Embry is back as Coyote, in search of his birth mother, who turns out to be Carrie Preston. Baron Vaughn is back as Bud, now an active lawyer in Robert and Sol’s law firm.
Other rather amazing actors who step in for a few lines or a couple of episodes include Rita Moreno, Swoosie Kurtz, Marsha Mason, Estelle Parsons, Joe Morton, Mary Kay Place, Conchata Ferrell, Amy Madigan, and so many more. I’ll get to some of them in a bit.
The Comedy Problem
I have a problem with half hour comedy shows on television. I often feel the actors announce their lines in anticipation of a laugh track. The delivery doesn’t feel normal or natural. That bothered me some in season 1, but it isn’t as much of a problem in season 2.
Jane and Lily are human LEDs – their light brightens everything.In season 2, this cast of amazing actors get a chance to act without making the show feel like a half hour comedy. There’s an opportunity to be subtle and nuanced and let something shine through from behind the eyes. All the main cast had this opportunity, not to mention Sam Elliott as Phil. He is a walking hunk of desire directed at Grace. Everyone stepped up, particularly Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, to give acting a good name. I thought season 1 belonged to Sam Waterston, whose performance was brilliant. But season 2 belongs to Jane and Lily. Jane and Lily are human LEDs – their light brightens everything.
The performances in season 2 were more natural and real. Half of the episodes were directed by women. Does this have anything to do with it? Most of the writers for series 2 were women. Does this have anything to do with it? The two series creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris still actively lead season 2. I’m sure they set the thematic direction the show would take.
Grace and Frankie: Themes
The themes running through season 2 include aging (old ain’t dead, baby), love, betrayal, duty, religion, the right to die, friendship, the environment, business ethics, and a woman’s right to be seen and have agency. The thematic threads were all handled in funny (but serious) ways.
All four of the main characters deal with love issues. Robert and Sol take many episodes to work through Sol’s moment of sex with Frankie.
Frankie continues buying yams from Jacob (Ernie Hudson). She’s going into the yam-based lube business and attempts to keep the relationship businesslike, but the flirtation/romance/kissing continues. She invites him to dinner to meet her two boys. Coyote loves him immediately. Bud is more lawyerly about the relationship.
Phil, the man Grace has secretly loved for 15 years, comes into Grace’s life again. He comes with complications that make Grace uncomfortable about the morality of being with him.
These two actors, both in their 70s, both showing signs of aging issues with movement and mobility, simply ignite with each other. Sam Elliott is crazy sexy anyway and always has been. There’s a wonderful scene with the two of them in bed, passionate, intense. If you’re so young you think old people don’t have sex, this scene will change your mind immediately. There are tamer, but just as real, scenes of Robert and Sol in bed, too. Sex is not just for straight elders in this show.
Phil’s complications turn out to be very big complications. Life is about choices.
Speaking of choices, season 2 is filled with them. Choices about business practices, choices about infidelity, choices about dying the way you want, choices about being in control of your own life, choices about who your real friends are. And, besides the hard choices, there’s also an episode devoted to vibrators and the type of vibrator best meant for an older woman with arthritis and a need for lube. Will Grace and Frankie go into the vibrator business? They might.
Women bring the vaginas – deal with it.I do believe the word vagina made its way into every episode. Frankie paints numerous versions of her own vagina as art for her lube packaging, Grace has encounters with both penises and vibrators in the vaginal area, and the men and children in both families get dragged into the conversation. It’s funny, but it’s making a strong point as well. Women bring the vaginas – deal with it.
Here’s my review of season 1 of Grace and Frankie.
I cannot recommend this series highly enough. 10 stars. 1000 stars. Do you agree? What did you think of season 2 of Grace and Frankie?