Netflix UK TV review: Grace and Frankie Season 7
Fonda and Tomlin10
June Diane Raphael10
Victoria Curatolo | On 15, May 2022
When Grace and Frankie originally aired in 2015, many people were sceptical as to whether it would last. With award-winning shows such as Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards gripping new audiences, how could a comedy starring two geriatric women compete? Despite starring veteran actors and icons of the New Hollywood era, viewers were unsure exactly how two recently gipped old broads would create longevity. But then Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin cropped up…
Season 1 saw Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) unveil their 20-year affair to wives Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) as well as the announcement that they were divorcing their spouses and marrying one another. Shocked and belligerent towards each other for decades, the heartbroken wives sought refuge in the beach house that the couples both shared, leaving no alternative but to become hesitant roommates.
Over the course of seven seasons, the two have embarked on a series of mishaps, relationships and business ventures together, all the while remaining strong and assertive in their newfound lease of independence as well as acceptance of their ever-growing friendship. Now, with the series’ seventh and final season finally released after delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we continue where we left off at the end of Season 6, which saw Grace’s husband Nick (Peter Gallagher) arrested for insider trading with Frankie left to find his misplaced stolen money. Robert and Sol resort to moving in with their ex-wives at the beach house after they lose their house, while Brianna (June Diane Raphael) sees her sister Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) take over as CEO of Say Grace.
Unfortunately, the supporting characters’ development in the final season is almost wishy-washy, with previously prevalent characters such as Bud (Baron Vaughn) and Coyote (Ethan Embry) being pushed to the sidelines with lacklustre and uninteresting storylines. Furthermore, the return of series favourites, such as Elaine (Marsha Mason) and Jean-Margaret (Millicent Martin), almost seems random with no introduction nor continuation set in place, leaving you somewhat confused. The closing of characters and subplots is abrupt, making them seem like throwaways that need to be quickly rushed offscreen.
However, it is indisputable that this season’s scene-stealer (not to mention every season in between) is Raphael as the brazen and hilarious Brianna, who’s arch has shifted whilst always remaining authentic. Raphael has reportedly written a spin-off series for Netflix titled Brianna – whether that comes to fruition or not remains to be seen.
It goes without saying, though, that the series’ most cherished scenes are those between Fonda and Tomlin. There is no denying their quick wit and chemistry, which perfectly encapsulates the true heart and essence of the show. Season 7, as with the rest of the show, explores important and rising topics like memory loss and mortality – which swiftly becomes a recurring theme throughout the final season itself.
A show that started off marginally bush-league became Netflix’s longest-running series, earning 13 Emmy nominations, 7 SAG nominations and a Golden Globe nod over the course of its seven-year run. It has featured guest appearances from such actors as Craig T Nelson, Mary Steenburgen and Sam Elliott (not to mention pop favourites RuPaul and Dolly Parton). It’s safe to say that Grace and Frankie progressively challenged the ageist norms and turned any scepticism on its head. The show has remained one of TV’s most loved and original comedies. It introduced a younger generation to the true summit of female empowerment and remains a show that subverts the age-old theory that women don’t want to end up alone. Grace and Frankie initially hated each other, and their fear of winding up alone stopped them for allowing themselves to truly live. Yet their failed marriages ended up being their saving grace because it led them to one another.
Grace and Frankie are the ultimate power couple; not since Romy and Michelle have we seen a truer declaration of love and respect in a female friendship. We are grateful for the time we’ve shared with them. And we thank you, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.