Warning: This contains spoilers for previous seasons for Grace and Frankie.
The finale of Grace and Frankie Season 3 saw the title characters in limbo, as Frankie (Lily Tomlin) informed her best friend Grace (Jane Fonda) that her boyfriend, Jacob (Ernie Hudson), had invited her to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico with him.
Left on somewhat of a cliff-hanger, after 10 months of waiting, viewers discover that San Diego’s favourite hippy did, in fact, move East. However, awaiting the arrival of Bud (Baron Vaughn) and Alison’s (Lindsey Kraft) baby, Frankie returns to California for the baby shower – reuniting the dynamic duo for the first time in what appears to be months. To Frankie’s jealous horror, she discovers that Grace has acquired a new roommate, Sherree, played by none other than familiar Friend Lisa Kudrow. Another newcomer to the series is none other than Oscar nominee and Hollywood legend Talia Shire, whom film fans will recognise as Adrian from the Rocky anthology – or The Godfather Trilogy, if you’re not a sports movie fan – as Frankie’s long-lost sister, Teddie.
In the meantime, Saul (Sam Waterston) – sporting a new beard – and Robert (Martin Sheen) are undergoing couples counselling, after struggling to find time to spend together; Coyote (Ethan Embry) is enjoying his new relationship with his girlfriend; Mallory is dealing with the repercussions of her separation; and Brianna (June Diane Raphael) is back together with Barry (Peter Cambor) – a delightful addition to an already solid cast.
With the series already on its fourth season, there was initial apprehension as to whether the writers would be able to maintain humorous and intelligent content without a leaving a ‘been there, done that’ residue. But it’s safe to say that it’s not the case: it’s clear that Tomlin and Fonda get better with age. Comical sub-plots of the latest season include Frankie attempting to find Grace a new boyfriend via hippyroundup.com, after informing her that “hippies are the best lovers”, and reading her soon-to-be grandchild excerpts from The Feminine Mystique.
Alongside the humour – perfected by the ever perceptively genius Jean Diane Raphael – comes significance, as Grace and Frankie deal with issues that remain relatable and commonplace. The duo’s close friend, Arlene (Marsha Mason), has since moved into assisted living, because of her early onset Alzheimer’s, Grace undergoes knee surgery due to her crippling arthritis, and the gang are attending more funerals than ever. And while humour is key when dealing with sensitive topics, it doesn’t go overboard.
There are some loopholes that need questioning, such as the whereabouts of Malory’s children who are nowhere to be seen throughout all 13 episodes, and Brianna’s reconciliation with Barry – who, last time we saw, abruptly ended their relationship. However, four seasons in, Grace and Frankie still features one of television’s most stellar and talented casts and explores empowering and liberating topics that were once considered taboo. Grace and Frankie is here to stay and to anyone who thinks a cancellation is underway, in the words Grace Hanson: “I’ll cross that bridge when it never happens.”
Grace and Frankie Season 1 to 4 is available to watch online on Netflix UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription.
Photo: Melissa Moseley/Netflix