Film & Television

Netflix Review: “Grace and Frankie” — Forgetful, but Fierce

The entrepreneurial adventures of our heroines represent only one of the engaging plotlines of Season 3. Others include Grace’s ex Robert cast as the lead in a gay community theatre production of 1776 (yes, President Bartlet can sing. . .sort of); Frankie’s ex Sol reluctantly contemplates retirement; and subplots about each of their children. Grace’s daughter Brianna (June Diane Raphael) can’t deal with dating a “nice guy;” her sister Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) is stuck with four children in a lackluster marriage. Frankie’s son Coyote (Ethan Embry) is joining the “Tiny House Nation” and falling for a girl at A.A.; his brother Nwabudike (Baron Vaughn) is taking over the dads’ law firm and dating a sexy but allergy-riddled girlfriend. Frankie’s love interest, organic farmer Jacob (Ernie Hudson) returns, and Grace attracts the attention of a new silver fox — and professional rival — Nick (Peter Gallagher).

The various characters are well drawn and their travails are fun to watch for the most part but, as the title suggests, the series is strongest when it focuses on the relationship between Grace and Frankie.

The two women have more confidence this season, more to prove, and more strength with which to do so. Although they are still very much a modern Odd Couple (Grace is elegant, unwrinkled and generally cool-headed; Frankie is spiritual, creative and deliberately messy), each has broadened her perspective and learned to appreciate what the other brings to the table. In the three seasons, they’ve evolved from enemies to frenemies to best friends. They still spar (often and with hilarious effect), but they depend on each other and the support and real affection are always there. Their styles are even cross-pollinating. Grace is less starched this season; Frankie’s caftans seems a little less hippy and a little more museum shop. (And, her jewelry would evoke envy in Iris Apfel.)

Fonda and Tomlin are a comedic dream team. Their performances are so well-timed, smart and funny. And, it has to be said, both actresses look phenomenal. Fonda is 79 and Tomlin is 77, but they hold their own with younger love interests. Hudson is five years younger than Tomlin, and Gallagher is nearly 18 years younger than Fonda. This is an encouraging trend for Hollywood, where mid-life men are often matched with women young enough to be their daughters (or even granddaughters).

Having answered the question “to binge or not to binge” with an enthusiastic affirmative, I’m now bereft and looking forward to Season 4. Alas, chances are the wait (as with prior seasons) may be a full year. Meanwhile, Fonda is reconnecting with former co-star Robert Redford for Our Souls at Night, a Netflix project in which widowed next-door neighbors fall in love. (No premiere date yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know. It sounds delicious!). Tomlin stars in an upcoming indie called, The Road Home, and has three live performances scheduled for 2017 in Las Vegas (May 6), Santa Clarita (May 20) and Albuquerque (Sep 23).

There is also hope that Grace and Frankie Season 4 will be here sooner than expected. Both Fonda and Tomlin have let Netflix know that they would appreciate accelerating the series’ release dates. After all, none of us is getting any younger.

But, thank you (again) to Netflix, Fonda and Tomlin for taking some of the sting out of getting older.

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  • Patricia. Moscatello March 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Great article on a Great show “Grace and Frankie. Great actresses.
    I love watching and sent your article out to all my Girlfriends.

    Reply