‘Grace and Frankie’ face struggles in fifth season

Written By Amanda Myers, Co-Features Editor

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Since it premiered in 2015, the catalyst of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” has been the “idgaf” attitude adapted for the older age bracket.  Now on season five, that ferocity remains as elements of longing create major identity concerns for our main characters.

For those unfamiliar with the show, where have you been?  People tend to think of “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards” as far as Netflix originals, but “Grace and Frankie” is the silent sensation. 

The premise centers around Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), total opposites that come together when they find out that their husbands, Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), are in love and plan to get married.  The cast alone speaks volumes and the relationships that are challenged as a part of the show give a voice to a number of important issues in the early seasons and beyond, such as ageism, sexism and gay rights. 

This season, however, is the ultimate test of the show’s two major relationships: one concerning friends, the other concerning lovers.

After breaking out of a retirement community in the season four finale, we find Grace and Frankie at the site of their now sold beach house. With only a blowtorch and fondue pot to their names, they come face-to-face with the agent of the new homeowner, played by RuPaul.  Some sassy clap backs delightfully ensue.

When their kids discover them illegallty squatting in the house, they attempt to wrangle them back to the retirement community, but are met with unfiltered honesty. The ladies don’t feel they should give up the freedom of their final act just because their offspring worry about the possible stroke or heart attack.

When Grace returns to her former company, Say Grace, to help daughter Brianna, she is met with the challenge of resurrecting her former self or becoming someone who wants to enjoy the time they have left. Frankie, meanwhile, goes on a search of self-reflection, looking for answers from a higher power that may or may not involve the use of certain substances. In the process, she gets lost in her art and shacks up with an old friend in a yurt (portable tent) on the patio of the beach house, much to the annoyance of Grace.

Robert and Sol also wrestle with new challenges.

Robert is at an impasse in his late-blooming theater career while Sol puts aside his eager, easy going ways and becomes a control freak over Robert’s health. He also obsesses over their new dog. But when Robert and Frankie take some special gummies and order fried Chinese food, Sol nearly busts out of his skin. 

The strain between Grace and Frankie only gets deeper in the last few episodes of the season. Grace goes to the Maldives with her boyfriend Nick (Peter Gallagher) and leaves Frankie to clean up her own mess, something that Grace would normally feel obligated to do for her friend. Like Sol, she is doubting what is expected of her versus what she wants.

The finale flashback episode suggests a terrible, alternative version of their lives — one where they never wound up becoming friends. Grace turns into a plastic surgery obsessed woman on her second marriage, while Frankie dons purple dreads and leeches onto Robert and Sol’s relationship. After this alternate reality version plays out, both realize that they need to be with one another in order to be the best versions of themselves, but that’s not before Grace marries Nick on a whim.

Grace and Frankie were able to get through one of the toughest points of their lives after their marriages failed with the help of one another. Season five leaves viewers wondering if an outside love is enough to break the bond these independent women have come to unexpectedly rely on.

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