Review: Grace and Frankie, Season 4

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie tackled some of the realities of aging in hard-hitting ways in season 4, but the series still produced some wonderful laugh out loud moments without making fun of anyone. Grace and Frankie both survived the season with dignity intact. There are a couple of spoilers ahead, but nothing big.

With Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie leading a wonderful cast, the performances were delightful. The ex-husbands Sol (Sam Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen) had their own story line this season.

Grace’s issues involved a lot of limping and a knee replacement. (Been there, done that.) Most of the knee replacement surgery story was not terribly realistic, but the stitches and incision on Jane Fonda’s knee looked pretty dang real. They made Grace’s boyfriend Nick (Peter Gallagher) faint. Excellent knee makeup.

Grace was conflicted all season about dating a younger Nick.  He was not a bit conflicted about dating and older woman and sought out advice from Robert about how to win her. (Someone, somewhere please make a gender reverse story about an older man who worries about his looks and his body when he starts dating a younger woman. Make sure he spends 2 hours getting ready for a date.)

Lily Tomlin and Ernie Hudson in Grace and Frankie

When the season began, Frankie was living in Santa Fe with Jacob (Ernie Hudson). She loved Jacob but hated Santa Fe. Too many people were just like her. Frankie was not at home in a place where she fit in so well.

Lily Tomlin, Lisa Kudrow, and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie

When Frankie came back to California to visit Grace, she found Sheree (Lisa Kudrow) living in her old space. Frankie was a bit jealous of Grace’s friendship with Sheree. Getting Sheree back into her rightful home involved dog doors, illegal entry, and a major con job. Certain knees did not survive the adventure.

I loved the gifts Frankie brought everyone from Santa Fe. She found terrible silver and turquoise jewelry and passed it around. I didn’t know it was even possible to find terrible silver and turquoise jewelry in Santa Fe. Every time I wander the stores and plaza in Santa Fe the handcrafted jewelry is gorgeous. I think Frankie bought hers out of a vending machine in a gas station.

With Sheree gone, Frankie admitted to Jacob that she wasn’t happy in Santa Fe and wanted to move back. They agreed to try the long distance thing and see how it went. Frankie’s son Bud (Baron Vaughn) and his girl Allison (Lindsey Kraft) were about to have a baby. Another reason to stay in California.

The long distance thing was hard for Frankie and Jacob. Especially when he watched new episodes of Longmire with Winnie. She was an extra on the show and wanted to show Jacob her scenes. Frankie expected him to give up Longmire in her absence!

Frankie’s son Coyote (Ethan Embry) was still living in a tiny house and not having sex with his friend from AA.

Grace’s daughter Brianna (June Diane Raphael) was running Grace’s old company. Not very well, though. It was in danger of going under. Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) was divorced. She left her 4 kids at home with a sitter and went to work for Brianna for free.

a bathtub on a kitchen counter

When Jacob was in Grace and Frankie’s kitchen he mentioned water damage in the ceiling. When Nick was in Grace and Frankie’s kitchen he mentioned water damage in the ceiling. Eventually they were putting a big kettle under a drip coming from the kitchen ceiling.

Then the ceiling gave and the bathtub from the second floor came crashing down onto the kitchen counter. That started a whole chain of disasters that went from bad to worse. When the season ended, we were left with a cliffhanger as to whether Grace and Frankie would be able to live in their house at all. I don’t want to tell you too much about that, except to say their four kids decided their moms were getting old.

One of Frankie’s crazy schemes ended with her being legally dead. She couldn’t use her credit cards, couldn’t withdraw cash from her bank, couldn’t get a phone in her name. There were two lawyers in the family working on getting her legally alive again, but it took so long that Frankie had a whole series of disasters of her own because she was dead. Being dead can really mess up your life.

Speaking of dead, one of the biggest fans of the vibrators Grace and Frankie sell died while using the vibrator. When they found the body, the vibrator was still buzzing. That created a hilarious story line about death stick vibrators.

Sam Waterston, Lindsey Kraft and Baron Vaughan in Grace and Frankie

The baby came. She was delivered in a completely unrealistic home birth by Mallory and Frankie. Frankie loved that little girl, but got herself into another mess when she was allowed to babysit her new granddaughter.

Sol and Robert were experiencing trouble in paradise. They argued. They were jealous. They were hurt. They hadn’t had sex in ages. They didn’t have any quality time together. It wasn’t pretty, folks.

Sol and Robert met this sexy guy named Roy (Mark Deklin). They went to a marriage counselor (Lorraine Toussaint), too. One or the other of those things helped them rediscover their love. Maybe more love than we know – think cliffhanger here.

One of the things I love about Grace and Frankie is seeing older actors. Actors in the same age group as the 4 stars. For example, there was a plot line with Marsha Mason involving dementia and life in a retirement community. Swoosie Kurtz was there as an old friend of Grace’s. They ran into her at one of many funerals they had to go to in season 4. People in that age group die at an alarming rate. I should check the stats to see if it’s more dangerous to be old or to be a teenage driver.

Talia Shire played Frankie’s sister in a story arc about Frankie and her sister reconciling after decades of separation.

Actresses like Marsha Mason and Swoosie Kurtz and Talia Shire were once leads – stars. They had the crazy dumb luck to grow older every day which means they aren’t asked to work anymore. They can still act as well as they ever could, of course. Only in a series like Grace and Frankie, which is a singularity, do older women get to show up to work. Grace and Frankie is one of a select few shows teaching the American television audience that older women are as interesting, vital, and full of life as younger women.

I want to personally thank Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris for putting all these older actors to work and for creating Grace and Frankie. I don’t know if Netflix has already given a green light for season 5, but season 4 ended with plenty of cliffhangers. I’m certainly hoping for another season with these people.

9 thoughts on “Review: Grace and Frankie, Season 4”

  1. this is such a wonderful series. everyone is so marvelously human. and you get to see seniors, juniors, gays, straights, whites, Blacks – you just know if there is a season 5 we will likely see Asians, Latinx and transgender actors. its just a fun show full of folks dealing with life as best they know how. yes, they are all enfranchised (first world problems) but that’s ok, its a heartwarming dramedy about people we dont get to see in any other show.

    i am a big fan of both Marsha Mason and Swoosie Kurtz. its a shame that they dont get more work bc they can still bring it. (i was under the impression that Talia Shire has intentionally taken a step back from her career so i was pleasantly surprised to see her here.) and i dont know that Ernie Hudson has ever been so well used.

    the show got its season 4 renewal within a month of the release of season 3. here’s hoping we hear that there will be a season 5 within the next few weeks.

  2. I may be the only one. But I found Season 4 a disservice to the two strong women protagonists. Really Sal and Robert end with the potential of a three way with some guy and G and F have to escape from assisted living. What idiot believes that Grace would not call the cops when a contractor rips her off. Is it we are supposed to bewe okay with the little women being manipulated by their children into giving up their freedom. This is true sexism. The writers should be ashamed.

    1. I completely agree; we just finished Season 4 last night and it made me really angry. I know such shows are not known for their plausibility in many ways, but there is no way that Grace and Frankie (let alone Sol and Robert) would allow the sale of their house without their knowledge. it just isn’t legally possible, unless they signed all their rights away somehow, but that doesn’t quite work like that. Just because their selfish children decided they needed assisted living and totally manipulated the situation doesn’t mean that Grace and Frankie both gave up their rights as adults. I also agree that Grace wouldn’t have allowed the contractor situation to just go on like that; she would have called the cops and addressed it much more quickly. I cannot believe that this show just sold out its female protagonists like this. I can only hope we see another ridiculous sitcom set up for Season 5 where they get their house back somehow.

  3. Grace and Frankie is an amazing, clever, well written show. Binge watching it is not optional, it’s necessary. If you haven’t seen it, you MUST give it a try. I give it a 10!

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