Contains spoilers for Grace And Frankie seasons one to five.
When we met Grace Hanson back in 2015, she was a high-maintenance, high-functioning alcoholic retired businesswoman with a gay husband, two daughters and an eating disorder. She didn’t do feelings, grandkids, anything considered unacceptable by her judgmental circle of friends, or, really, happiness.
Back then, Frankie Bergstein was a free spirit activist artist with fabulous hair, a haiku journal, two adopted sons, her own gay husband, an earthquake phobia and a distinct lack of rules when it came to putting M&Ms in breakfast cereal.
After years of living together – their ex-husbands Robert and Sol now happily married to each other – Grace and Frankie are mostly still all of these things but Grace has softened a little and Frankie has firmed up. Grace is more honest with herself, more fulfilled and more emotionally available. Frankie co-owns a business, handles her finances and sometimes even wears deodorant.
The question is, as their show’s penultimate season lands on Netflix, where will Frankie fit in with the surprise marriage Grace announced in the season five finale?
‘Maybe Frankie and I don’t make sense anymore.’
Following their golf buggy break-out from the retirement community into which they’d been manipulated into by their concerned kids, Grace and Frankie squatted in their beach house (which had been sold to starlet Kareena G, played by Nicole Richie, whose assistant was played by RuPaul) until she agreed to return it to them.
The rest of season five saw Grace go back to work to attempt to save her failing company Say Grace, and butt heads with CEO daughter Brianna in the process. Attempting to revive that and keep vibrator company Vybrant and her relationship with wealthy younger boyfriend Nick (The OC’s Peter Gallagher) going, Grace got temporarily hooked on Adderall. Things came to a head when, under the influence, she said hurtful things about her daughters in an online interview, then apologised to the girls – an unprecedented event – dumped the pills and left the company for good.
After Frankie messed up at Vybrant, putting the company in danger, Grace and Nick went to the Maldives for a fortnight to get away. On her return, Grace and Frankie argued at Bud and Allison’s wedding, Frankie accusing Grace of never taking her seriously and Grace accusing Frankie of making her clean up all her messes.
After a strange dream in which we saw what would have happened to the pair had they not moved in together (Frankie = purple dreadlocks, an unwelcome permanent guest in Sol and Robert’s home, Grace = ridiculous plastic surgery and another unhappy marriage), they reconciled before Grace broke the news that she’d married Nick off-screen, leaving a big question mark over the friends’ future.
‘I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I wasn’t even high!’
Frankie’s season five story revolved around her health, her first granddaughter, and her wondering whether life with Grace had made her lose her counter-culture edge. The latter prompted her to reconnect with Leo (Starsky & Hutch’s Paul Michael Glaser. She super boned that dude), a hippie friend who erected his yurt at the beach house for a spell.
Health-wise, Frankie resisted getting medical treatment for her neurological problems. She’d had a series of stroke-like events and developed a tremor, but insisted on alternative therapies, much to Grace’s chagrin. Caving to pressure from son Bud to hire a home health aide, Frankie rebelled by hiring Joan-Margaret (Frasier’s Millicent Martin), Robert and Sol’s ex-secretary at the law firm, an inept gambling addict older and more infirm than Grace and Frankie.
Workwise, Frankie came close to bankrupting Vybrant by offering free vibrators for retweets on Twitter and getting a surprise 50,000 responses, and was frustrated when Grace nixed her pitch of diversifying the product line to more jazzy items for elder care.
She enjoyed spending time with her first grandchild Faith (despite accidentally driving the baby to Mexico with no way of getting home) and hosted her son Bud’s wedding at the beach house. At the wedding, she accused Grace of abandoning her for Nick in the fight that led Grace to her surprise second marriage, before the pair made up and realised they they were best friends who needed each other.
‘To dream the impossible dream’
Robert’s season five was all about his health frustrations and his burgeoning amateur musical career. After winning his Tappy last season, he was cast as the lead in his gay theatre troupe’s new production of Man Of La Mancha. His role was demoted to sidekick Sancho though, when his younger, more talented and recently out neighbour was given the part (despite director Peter living with Robert and Sol after breaking up with his partner Jeff).
Season five also saw Sol and Robert define their relationship as old marrieds and decide they didn’t want threesomes or an open arrangement. Finding himself too old to go clubbing with his young theatre friends, Robert stumbled upon a beautiful historical gay pub due to be closed down.
His heart health problems continued, and his frustration at Sol’s restrictive diet and rules found expression when he and Frankie got high together on edibles.
Dismayed by the poor treatment Robert received from the play’s director Peter, Sol stood up for his husband and ended up getting Robert fired from the production. To make it up to him, Sol made impromptu arrangements for Robert to sing The Impossible Dream from Man Of La Mancha accompanied on stage, to an audience of family and friends.
Read more: the finest West Wing episodes from seasons one to three.
‘Sing out, Louise!’
After working out that a threesome with his folk music pal Roy wasn’t what he or Robert wanted, Sol’s main storyline in season five was dog-related. Missing Peter’s Great Dane Norman, who lived with the couple while Peter was staying with them, Sol replaced him with a little Jack Russell Terrier of his own named Carl.
In non-dog news, Sol worried about Robert’s health and sleep apnea, became a grandfather to baby Faith and took a step closer to his scary daughter-in-law Brianna when she came to him for advice about her relationship with Barry.
‘I’ve never been the generous one in a relationship before’ / ‘And you still aren’t’
With falling sales on the original Say Grace product line and no new successes, Brianna faced losing the company in season five. She and Grace fought over company decisions, each attempting to humiliate the other at work with a series of embarrassing revelations (Grace had lied about her age and was actually 80; an online video of Brianna trampolining…). Eventually, she accepted her mother’s help and together landed a lucrative hotel deal that staved off bankruptcy.
In her personal life, Brianna’s relationship with Barry (‘a cardigan that does math’) was going strong. She strongly objected to him donating his sperm to his lesbian friends, but when it looked as though they were going to choose a different donor, Brianna fought for Barry and gave him her blessing as it would be his only chance of having a child.
‘I’m the only one with no sex life in this family’
Mallory started a new intern role at Say Grace, working with her sister Brianna, and briefly with their mother. Coyote, formerly obsessed with Mallory but now just friends, is still living with her and the kids in his tiny house, and being driven to his music teaching job at their school by her.
Separated from her cheating husband, Mallory went back on the dating market. Using a Brianna-written profile, her first date was with an internet fail meme sensation that went nowhere. When daughter Madison unwittingly used her mother’s spliffs to decorate a school project, Mallory was dragged in to meet the school’s attractive, single and clearly into her principal, who was her date to Bud and Allison’s wedding.
Lawyer Bud and his allergy-prone partner Allison (Lindsey Kraft) are raising their baby daughter Faith in season five, which concludes in their wedding at the beach house (her dress is, to quote Brianna, like what a dead child was buried in in the 1800s). His main storyline involved his concern over Frankie’s health and his nightmarish in-laws. He finally stands up for Allison to her awful father, and his wife eventually does the same. Hoo-ray.
Living back in Mallory’s driveway in his tiny house after his move to LA with the make-up artist failed, Coyote’s life started coming together in season five. Working as a school music teacher, and sober, he started paying back his parents the money he’d borrowed from them over the years.
His main storyline last season was the surprise arrival of his half-brother Luke from his birth mother. When Luke discovered his mother communicating with Coyote, he assumed they were having an affair and confronted Coyote about it, but learned that their mother had had her first son adopted and that they were in fact half-brothers. Coyote’s birth mother had previously refused to acknowledge him to her family, preferring to keep the secret.
Grace And Frankie season six is available to stream on Netflix now. See the official trailer below:
Read about the new British TV comedies on their way in 2020 here.