At the end of season 3 of Grace and Frankie, things were up in the air for the ladies, literally — they took a hot air balloon ride ahead of Frankie’s (Lily Tomlin) imminent move to Santa Fe — but also figuratively, as Grace (Jane Fonda) considered a relationship with a younger man and both ladies struggled with the prospect of living apart.
We land back on earth for season 4 a few months later, with Frankie returning to town for Bud and Allison’s baby’s gender reveal party — just one of many pre-birth parties to come. Only things aren’t quite as she left them.
When Frankie gets back to the beach house, she discovers that bubbly, rhinestone-encrusted manicurist Sheree (Lisa Kudrow) has replaced her as Grace’s roomie. “She’s an incredibly sweet, lovable character — no matter how Frankie feels about her,” says executive producer Marta Kauffman, who worked with Kudrow for years on Friends. “As soon as the part was written it was like, ‘Oh my God, Lisa would be amazing!’ The joy of getting to work with her again was like going home.”
A new face isn’t the only thing the girls have to contend with: Grace’s romance with great-haired entrepreneur Nick (Peter Gallagher) brings up plenty of age-difference conundrums (and, of course, hilarity) as Grace tries to keep up with a younger man in the bedroom. The ladies’ vibrator business is still buzzing along too, and with that come the indignities of running a company at a certain age. “A lot of what happens in these episodes uses the business as a backdrop of fabric to explore other things,” says Kauffman. “Part of what this season is about is how people perceive you as you age, both in terms of love interests and in terms getting people to trust that you’re okay. But things make a turn for the ladies as the season goes on.”
Four seasons in, there’s no danger of the jokes getting, um, old. “Age is just part of who the characters are,” Kauffman says. “To make jokes about age is actually dismissive of the challenges that it brings.”
In addition to illuminating the intricacies of forging new relationships and pursuing unfamiliar endeavors later in life, Kauffman wants the show to bring light and lightness to people of all ages. “It’s my true hope that in times that are incredibly challenging and difficult that the show, as well as bringing an awareness, is like comfort food for viewers,” she says. “It’s macaroni and cheese.” Add one of Grace’s martinis, and it sounds like a recipe for success to us.
Grace and Frankie season 4 is available to stream on Netflix now.