Feb 21, 2018

[TV] Grace and Frankie: Season 4 Review

Whenever a new season of Grace and Frankie hits Netflix, we're fairly quick to try to find time to watch it as soon as possible. And the way things ended with the third season certainly had us pretty excited to find out what would happen next. And with a duo like this, what can go wrong, right?

Like the other seasons before, the show continues to have a surprising number of levels to its stories and the many different issues it tries to tackle across the season and even within the individual episodes. And it's that richness to the writing that I love so much about this show.

I like things are evolving for more of the characters and not just are titular protagonists. There's a lot going on with pretty much everyone and how they try to balace things out and yet move the sort of "main" plot forward is a fascinating part of the whoe narrative experience of this show. But that's what keeps us coming back season after season.

Synopsis: Grace and Frankie is a comedy drama series created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris for Netflix. As of the time of this review, the show has already been confirmed for a fifth season.

The season begins with an odd new status quo - with Frankie (Lily Tomlin) all the way in Santa Fe with Jacob (Ernie Hudson). And when she comes home to visit Grace (Jane Fonda), she discovers that she's taken on a new house mate in the form of Sherree (Lisa Kudrow) and  it's clear that Frankie isn't comfy with these changes.

On the other hand, Robert (Martin Sheen) is getting tired of attending gay rights rallies with Sol (Sam Waterson). Bud (Baron Vaughn) and Alison (Lindsey Kraft) are excited about the new baby but also have been holding out on  finding out of the sex of the baby until the last minute. And they decide to make the big reveal a family event of sorts.

What I Liked: The addition of Lisa Kudrow to the cast, even just for this season, was a welcome surprise. You think that Lily Tomlin had cornered the market on crazy but bringing Kudrow in was an interesting foil. They're both quite quirky, but in very differet ways. And that's how they come into clash with Grace in the background.

The whole journey that the two ladies take this time around seems both familiar yet different. They've both been struggling with their age and everyone's concern that they can no longer take care of themselves - this has been stressed since the very first episode. But this season elevates that discussion to a new level with so many angles and other quirks. And it's quite the fulfilling journey.

And Frankie being declared dead was a GENIUS twist that was so her. And how it affected everything else sent interesting ripples across the whole season.

What Could Have Been Better: I wanted more of a story for Brianna (June Diane Raphael) outside of the company, but it seems she's sort of fated to push that arc along. Coyote (Ethan Embry) had a bit more story in terms of his possible love interest, but beyond that there's really not  all that much going on with him. A lot more focus went to Bud, and I suppose that was long overdue given his lack of spotlight time in prior seasons.

I was a little disappointed with how they more or less resolved Jacob's story. It made sense for the most part and I can see how things would lead there but on the whole it felt lacking somehow. I guess I wanted more to happen for Frankie or for this to have a sort of bigger impact. Then again Frankie was never the sort to be truly dependent on anyone and was more focused on being there for her kids and those she loves.

TL;DR: Grace and Frankie continues to delight while also making us think about how we plan to deal with life in our older years. Their misadventures continue to seem crazy at first but still hit scarily close to home. Thus the season gets a good 5 reminders that Grace and Frankie are starting to become a bit of a risk to themselves out of a possible 5.

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