Friday, March 24, 2017

Return Of Beloved Friends (And Humor): Grace And Frankie Season Three

The Good: Very funny, Great performances, Wonderful character development
The Bad: Moments of forced conflict
The Basics: In the third season of Grace And Frankie, the humor comes back to the forefront with clever, amusing, heartfelt episodes that make all the characters shine!

There are few Netflix television shows I look forward to the way I look forward to new episodes of Grace And Frankie. Today is the day we get new episodes of Grace And Frankie as the third season premieres on Netflix. Grace And Frankie Season Three does what many of the best television shows do, which is to smooth out some of the rough spots from earlier seasons and hit a stride in the third season. Grace And Frankie is far less tortured than season 2 (reviewed here!) and it is well-beyond the initial character conflicts and the work of establishing the key characters which is what Grace And Frankie Season 1 (reviewed here!) had to do.

Grace And Frankie Season 3 does an excellent job of building all of the key characters, while remembering to bring the humor. The thirteen-episode third season of Grace And Frankie is funny, mature and socially-relevant.

A month after Babe's cremation and the execution of her will, Frankie is cramming to fill her gallery space, much to the chagrin of Grace, who is doing most of the work for their nascent business . . . and cleaning up their shared house. While Robert and Sol move into their new place, while Sol is obsessed with reconciling with Frankie, the tension in the family is still fairly high. Brianna reaches out to Frankie, while Sol crashes the gallery opening by trying a grand, sweet gesture with Frankie. As the family tensions even out, Grace and Frankie focus together on trying to get financing for their business of making vibrators for older women. Grace continues to be frustrated with Frankie over her friend's inability to stay focused, as Frankie continues to try to pitch easy-access condoms for senior citizens during their business meetings.

When Grace and Frankie's business get's an angel investor through Frankie, the pair is able to manufacture their prototypes and starts the tough job of figuring out how to get focus group data from a surprisingly reticent demographic. While Brianna and Mallory have a conflict with one another over Mallory's children and Brianna's reactions to them, Robert and Sol have issues with their work, retirement, and Robert getting cast for a big part in a local theater production. As Bud takes a bigger role at the law firm by dating a woman everyone else hates, Grace and Frankie struggle with balancing their business and romantic relationships with their living together in the face of things like a break-in, Grace owning a gun, and Frankie's pot getting smoked up without her!

Grace And Frankie continues to both expand the characters from the first two seasons, who have now become beloved to anyone who watches the show, while adding more adult conflict with his less morose than the second season. The third season has some very funny lines and the usual hilarious performances. Grace And Frankie Season Three manages to utilize almost all of the cast in impressive ways with greater balance than the prior seasons. In fact, only Ethan Embry's Coyote seems to have less of a role than in prior seasons, though Brooklyn Decker's Mallory seems to have more of a substantive part in the third season of Grace And Frankie.

The key Grace And Frankie continue to be the same in the third season. Here is where the third season finds them:

Grace - Committed to the business with Frankie, she is frustrated by Frankie's lack of focus. She has to adapt to having Jacob around more (as Frankie's relationship with him continues to deepen). She is upset by how cruel the finance market is to her and Frankie based upon their age. Despite that, she works hard to get the pair financing, takes risks with her friends to get market data and continues to make amends for her prior cruelty while drunk. She is miffed by how many of the people in her life seem to prefer Frankie over her and she reaches out to have a better relationship with her daughters,

Robert - He is initially frustrated by Sol's obsession with smoothing things over with Frankie at the expense of the happiness he feels with moving into their new, shared, house. Tired of how unhappy and mundane working as a divorce lawyer has become, he is eager to retire finally to enjoy life. He is cast in a local production of 1776, while Sol is not. He is tortured by visions of his mother after he finally comes out to her and deals with her wrath, but he is able to turn to Sol,

Frankie - As she and Jacob become closer, she finds herself less excited about focusing on her work with Grace. She has an amazing gallery opening, despite Sol's grand romantic gesture flopping, and she bonds with Brianna. When the house she shares with Grace is broken into, she becomes terrified . . . as much of the criminal as by Grace and her marksmanship! She remains fearless in exploring her emotions and she finds new ways to be supportive to Grace, whom everyone now acknowledges as her best friend,

Sol - Feeling guilty over lying decades prior to Frankie about the quality of her artwork and a sale that never actually occurred, he tanks showing off his new house with Robert with his fretting. He works to reconcile with Frankie, while he and Robert adapt to living together in a new home, where they don't have to listen to each other's music. He wants to be in a play with Robert and he helps Robert overcome his mother-centered issues,

Brianna - Frustrated with Mallory and her many children and how that has strained their relationship, she finds herself having to work actively on her relationship with her sister. Desperate to reconcile with her mother figure, Frankie, she comes through with the business loan needed to fund Grace and Frankie's vibrator business, with the caveat that Grace not find out where the money came from. When her relationship with Barry falls apart because she is not forward-seeing, she starts going through relationships, including meeting a male prostitute,

Mallory - Following the birth of her twins, she is overwhelmed. Her husband seems entirely ill-equipped to deal with having so many children and she is frustrated by how having more children has strained her relationship with Brianna. She tries to relax and be supportive of Grace after the robbery and is pretty psyched to have time away from the kids just to get high,

Coyote - Relegated to a supporting role this season, he leaps to Frankie's support when their home is broken into,

and Bud - Now dating a woman who has a slew of allergies, he becomes a bigger presence at the law firm as Robert steps back from the job.

On the acting front, the third season of Grace And Frankie is the point where it is impossible not to say, "Holy fuck, how can the big four not dominate every award's show?!" Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Jane Fonda, and Sam Waterston are all amazing actors and they each manage to have powerful and hilarious moments. They are all impressive, seasoned actors who have had long careers that have proven their talents, but in season three of Grace And Frankie, each one shows the viewer something new from their performance range. If Sheen, Fonda, Tomlin and Waterston are not nominated for acting awards for the third season of Grace And Frankie, the awards are just stupidly myopic.

The third season of Grace And Frankie also allows June Diane Raphael to break out as Brianna. Raphael has, historically, delivered some of the show's funniest, snarkiest, lines, but is has been hard for her to come out from the shadow of the four headliners. In Grace And Frankie Season Three, Raphael gives a more nuanced performance that shows off a far greater range than in prior seasons and other works she has been in. It is nice to see Raphael in a role where she can shine and show off more than one aspect of her talent. If June Diane Raphael is not even nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her work in the third season of Grace And Frankie, there is no real reason to pay attention to Award's Season.

Ultimately, Grace And Frankie Season Three manages to be very funny while exploring issues of aging, female sexuality, the psychology of religious oppression, and the complications of actually maintaining and growing family relationships. Grace And Frankie Season Three finds the actors hitting an uncommon stride while making their characters some of the most wonderful and memorable in television history.

For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Iron Fist - Season 1
Love - Season 2
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
"Happy Fuckin' New Year" - Sense8
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
"The Ghost" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Duet" - The Flash
"The Fellowship Of The Spear" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Star-Crossed" - Supergirl
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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