Grace and Frankie is one of Netflix’s longest running original sitcoms. Five years ago it took the streaming services by storm with an absolutely all-star cast. The only concern was whether or not it could survive on a story surrounding seventy-year-olds reinventing themselves. While its constant renewal gives proof that there was nothing to be concerned about, how long can this story feel fresh?
Warning: Mild Spoilers Below for Grace and Frankie Season 5
The story of season five revolves around Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) rebelling against the norms of old age and reclaiming their old home while dealing with the aches and pains of the world around them. Sol (Sam Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen) deal with the fallout of their neighbour Oliver’s (Scott Evans) revelation and the company’s newest production of Don Quixote. Meanwhile Bud (Baron Vaughn) and Allison (Lindsey Kraft) prepare to get married, Coyote (Ethan Embry) searches for more answers about his birth mother, Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) ventures into the dating scene again and Brianna (June Diane Raphael) deals with a big decision in her relationship.
The charm of Grace and Frankie is undeniably its cast. They continue to excel in delivering some funny, entertaining and flawed characters. Each of the actors do not miss a beat bringing the same level of charm from season one until now. The great thing about this sitcom is while it grabs you with the cast and its intriguing characters, the story is so much more than that. It tackles the themes of aging, gender, gay rights, health, death and loneliness. All things that any generation can relate to in some capacity.
This season feels like it does misstep a bit at times. The first few episodes seem to quickly rush through the main predicament of last season’s finale. Grace and Frankie are quickly reunited with their beach house while also acting the least like the characters we’ve come to know. The overuse of slang and millennial bantering between the characters seems unnatural and a way to feel relevant to the guest stars’ audiences. Grace and Frankie has always been known for its smart writing that looks at subtext rather than overt conversations. Unfortunately, these first few episodes are the opposite of that.
Thankfully, this trend changes as the simplistic plot is pushed aside for the types of stories that matter in this show’s world. Budd and Brianna get particularly juicy storylines this season that help make them grow as people. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Coyote or Mallory who seem to be extremely glossed over in their own personal journeys. Each of the main four characters settle into a good rhythm by episode 5 allowing them to tackle their desires to rediscover themselves in their elder age.
The issue that arises is whether or not this premise can sustain itself longer than it already has. The banter of these four companions over needing help versus wanting independence seems to running its course. While the actors are charming and the characters aren’t losing steam, one can’t help but wonder what else this show can do that hasn’t already been done.
This season of Grace and Frankie continues to show that sitcoms don’t need to follow people’s episodic lives with forced laugh tracks to still be funny. While it isn’t the strongest season of this series as it deals with millennial pandering, simplistic plots and underdeveloped storylines, the fantastic ensemble and their undeniable chemistry continues to deliver strong themes and subtext to the stories that it actually explores making it hard not to invest in these characters and their lives. This season was a step back for the series, but still manages to be an entertaining ride so I’m going to say it’s worth the watch.
Season five of Grace and Frankie is now streaming on Netflix.
What did you think of this season of Grace and Frankie? Let me know in the comments!
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