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Wednesday
May132015

Grace and Frankie 5-6: "The Fall" and "The Earthquake"

We're almost halfway through Grace and Frankie, so here's Manuel recapping episodes 5 & 6 of this Odd Couple  actressexual Netflix offering.

The show keeps toying with playing the "Old Lady" card but these two broads are so spry and full of life (so much physical comedy!)

After gently suggesting Grace should dive right into the dating pool by activating an online dating profile, Frankie and Brianna get stoned and urge Grace to drive them for some FroYo where an ill-placed yogurt spill causes Grace to fall, break her hip and need surgery. It’s a thin plot but it’s surprising the amount of pathos the show garners from focusing on Grace’s mortality. Chalk it up to Jane Fonda who even when bed-ridden manages to imbue her character with a winnowing sense of sadness and anxiety. Of no help is Frankie who keeps reminding everyone who’ll hear her how hip surgeries are wont to be awry especially at their age.

Frankie: Dr Paul wants you to suck on this. You have to suck on the inhalation nozzle, and move the balls. Don't worry, I made a sex joke about that and he laughed.

Of course, as with almost all of these early episodes, the storyline is designed to a) showcase Fonda and Tomlin’s talent by b) creating a situation wherein Grace and Frankie realize they’re in the same boat and goshdarnit they might as well make peace with the fact that they’re “stuck with each other.” That said, in a nice callback to episode 4, it turns out that everything we saw was all a split-second Grace hallucination (she actually doesn’t fall as Frankie - surprise! - catches her before she does) most likely fueled by her guilt of having jilted Frankie at the funeral.

lots more after the jump

Best Jane Moment

Her eager if guarded attempt at crafting a dating profile (seeing Jane’s face as she deletes “Fun” is a master class in “less is more” facial expressions)

Best Lily Moment

Spinning in a chair! Lily’s chemistry with June Diane Raphael is almost as solid as it is with Jane, and I love that Brianna emerges as an odd mix of Frankie and Grace, the former’s laissez-faire bohemian attitude paired with the latter’s poise and business acumen.

Best Lily & Jane Moment

While I still feel the show is like a sitcom trapped in a cable dramedy, I’m reminded that framings like these would most likely be lost if this were shot as a multicam replica of Hot in Cleveland.

Rating: B A rather treacly episode (and not just because it was so obsessed with FroYo which I obviously went out for as soon as I could as a way to battle this mini-heat wave here in NYC) but one which nevertheless shows where the strengths of this freshman show lie: Lily and Jane. You know what keeps coming to mind the more I watch this show? First Wives Club. Same high-wire act of clashing big personalities set post-divorce made memorable by a striking trio of performances. And yes, that’s me just wishing Dolly would join them and complete the set.

 

"The Earthquake"
May this gif function as a metaphor for the show itself? I know I want it. I know it’s probably too light and fluffy and perhaps not as healthy as it should be with very little weight (at least it's totally aware of what it is), but goddammit if I don’t want to gobble up. 

After a delightful shared morning breakfast our titular protagonists go off to face the day: Grace finally caves and sets up a real-life date with one of the guys who had been tickling her online profile for days. Frankie, on the other hand, spends the rest of the day dealing with her seismophobia with the help of Sol (forgoing an Almodovar/paella date with Robert).

The episode does give us a little bit more of the backstory behind the Sol and Robert relationship which, while I’d never use to berate the show for “not being queer!”, I am still having a hard time buying. Their gay couple friends suggest they’re more “out” than you’d think given the propriety and guardedness we saw at the funeral just a mere episodes ago (which we’re told was a month or so before this ep?) but also their chemistry feels slightly off, no? How could they have been so close for twenty years yet feel like strangers at times? I can see them working out the kinks of actually being in a relationship but Robert’s continued passive aggressiveness (towards Sol, his wife, his kids) feels like such an odd pairing to Sol’s empathetic and nurturing sensibility.

Best Jane Moment

Her sexy romp on the kitchen. For all its tired cliches and sitcomey plots, you have to admit it’s nice to see Jane getting hers, especially as she looks radiant in every episode. This woman was born in 1937! The mind boggles!

Best Lily Moment

Grace: Look I'm a coddler, okay? I mean, if I were, then I would, but I'm not so I can't.

Peyote. Meditation. Weed. Seismophobia. At some point the writers will throw their hands in the air and just ask Lily to scream for no reason and make it almost impossibly hilarious, yes? Also, see again a wonderful sense of framing whenever our leading ladies are in the same shot.

Best Facial Hair

It’s a tie because boy can these two carry a beard. Am I the only underwhelmed by this Mal/Coyote storyline which seems designed to keep the plots so tightly wound around our two families that they feel rather claustrophobic? It really seems to stem from an insularity that sitcoms thrive on but which feels at odds with the more nuanced dramedy that circles Grace and Frankie, no? I guess all I’m saying is “more Mary Kay Place and/or Christine Lahti please!”

Rating: B This show could really just be Lily & Jane schmoozing and boozing it up and I would be entertained. I sometimes get bored when the show pretends it’s as interested in Sol/Robert or that Coyote/Mal storyline when it really excels when it’s squarely focused on the odd couple at the heart of the show.

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Reader Comments (4)

I dont know about "The Fall". I liked everyone's work but talk about thin considering the [SPOILER] it was all a dream [/SPOILER] reveal. I guess I'm not up for that much drama that turns out to be fake. but boy do Lily & Jane sell it like it's A material.

May 14, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wound up liking The Fall the best of the first 10 episodes so far, even if the Fall was SPOILER ALERT a daydream. It was actually the funniest episode so far to me and I liked the chemistry between Fonda and Tomlin after that episode.

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Am I imagining a little bit of "Edith Ann" in that spinning chair GIF?

May 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFrank McCormick

I have to agree that The Fall seemed so silly, and such a waste to have gone SO far into the idea... but Jane and Lily are SO good, they keep me watching. Even the girl who plays Briana was really enjoyable this episode.

May 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

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