Grace and Frankie Ages Beautifully as Season 4 Ponders Senior Living

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New friends, death, knee replacements, relationship problems, dementia, scam artists, grandchildren, and escaped zoo animals are just some of the topics covered during Grace and Frankie Season 4.

All of them are skillfully and entertainingly woven into the onset of old age and how it feels to know that someday, you might not be able to take care of yourself as you have for so long.

It's one of the most horrifying thoughts when faced with a long life (and who wants the alternative?), but Grace and Frankie examines the issue from every possible direction with its familiar tones of friendship, comedy, and exasperating family both helping and tossing hurdles into the way of the glorious titular characters.

Is Three a Crowd? - Grace and Frankie

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are still are top form as Grace and Frankie, who were parting ways at the end of Season 3 so Frankie could not only pursue her relationship with Jacob (Ernie Hudson) but her dreams of being an artist with like-minded people in Santa Fe.

Long distance relationships aren't all they're cracked up to be, and if there is any true love story on this Netflix series, it's the friendship between Grace and Frankie. 

Lisa Kudrow plays her part as Grace's new roommate, Sheree, perhaps a little too well for Frankie's peace of mind. When it comes to quirks and caring for their mutual friend, while they stand far apart in personality, they are close in scale.

Kudrow's addition is a fun detour from the duo. The same can be said for the return of Marsha Mason as Arlene, but for entirely different reasons. She brings to the forefront the possible subject of their waning mental faculties and leads to quite an adventure for Grace and Frankie.

When they run into Arlene, she's interested in hosting a toy party at her home, which just so happens to be in a retirement village.

Friends Forever - Grace and Frankie

The thought of going to a retirement village is so foreign to Grace and Frankie they can barely wrap their heads around it, but the more time they spend with Arlene, they realize there might be a time when it could be beneficial, even if not welcome.

As the pace of their friends' deaths increase, it sets the minds of everyone rolling in an inevitable direction. Grace and Frankie have more capers than we can shake a stick at, and their consistent troubles and hiding them from family and friends sets them on a collision course with them. Of course.

They aren't the only ones holding back, though, as the kids are all in various states of disarray. As usual. 

Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) is divorced, Coyote (Ethan Embry) is getting his life in order, Bud (Baron Vaughn) is expecting his first child, and Brianna (June Diane Raphael) is holding back a severe secret from Grace while she stumbles through her love life with Barry (Peter Cambor).

All You Need Is Love - Grace and Frankie

Relationships are a big part of Grace and Frankie Season 4. Not only are Frankie and Jason forced into yet another new phase of their love story, but like her daughter, Brianna, Grace is floundering with her younger man, Nick (Peter Gallagher).

A man dating a younger woman is much different than an older woman dating a younger man because of all the upkeep required. Grace feels overwhelmed with what she feels she needs to do keep up the pace.

Reel life isn't always as unforgiving as real life, though, and our characters need to give themselves a lot more credit. 

That's the situation in which Sol (Sam Waterston) and Robert (Martin Sheen) find themselves as their marriage has moved out of the honeymoon phase and on to a bit of tedium. Keeping it fresh is a challenge, and the two find themselves at odds how to make it fresh and still keep their individual interests satisfied.

Hiding in Plain Sight - Grace and Frankie

All of the stories are amusing, but not without points that make you think about your own future, no matter how far down the road it may be. Even if you're not on the cusp of old age, you're likely still concerned about what others think, and that's the crux of old age.

Nobody wants to be treated differently because of their age, or for one incident to suddenly become THE marker for who they're going to be going forward because they've reached a certain age. With Grace and Frankie especially, they've always been a little extraordinary. Their mistakes are larger than average.

They've been making them for a long time and to suddenly discover the next one might be the one that sends them over the edge from quirky to senile is a sobering thought. 

Fonda and Tomlin do an excellent job conveying these feelings, still making us laugh, but also bringing to light a tinge of reality. As funny as their situations can be, they allow for compassion, so their characters grow and the storyline progresses naturally with two women who are facing enormous and natural hurdles in life.

It's the first time it dawned on me that there could be a season when one of them might die. The final season? It's a horrifying thought, but I wouldn't put it past either Fonda or Tomlin to give it the OK after seeing the lengths they're willing to go to share their thoughts on the aging process here. 


Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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