In some ways, I wish the second season of Grace And Frankie had ended with “The Party.” Overall, it’s a much more emotionally resonant and engaging episode than “The Coup,” the actual finale, ends up being. But ending on the decidedly somber note of “The Party” also wouldn’t really be Grace And Frankie’s style. It’s a show that digs into the emotions of its characters and unearths difficult revelations and relationship growth, but even when that sometimes goes in a dark direction, it manages to find the light eventually. By the end of “The Coup,” Frankie and Grace are sitting on the beach with Babe—well, her ashes—laughing and promising to kill each other should either one ever want to end their life in the way Babe did. Oh, they’re also business partners now.
The impetus for both Frankie and Grace’s journeys in the finale comes from gifts left behind by Babe. She left paintbrushes and a paid-for gallery show for Frankie. For Grace, she left a vibrator. Both of those gifts end up collecting a lot more meaning over the course of the episode. In preparation for her gallery show, Frankie wants to get her hands back on “Hitler’s Circumcision,” the painting Kenny Loggins bought off Sol’s office wall years ago, a story we heard a few episodes ago and these characters have apparently been hearing several times a week ever since it happened. The serialized structure of Grace And Frankie has been really strong this season. That Kenny Loggins line seemed like such a throwaway—just another weird, quirky detail of Frankie’s increasingly weird, quirky life. But it’s brought back in a big way. Nothing is all that random in Grace And Frankie’s universe. This season has done an impressive job of planting things here and there and giving emotional significance to them later. That’s good world-building.
When “Hitler’s Circumcision” returns, shit hits the fan. Sol reveals the truth: Kenny Loggins never bought Frankie’s painting. He lied to her because she was going through a rough patch with her art and he wanted her to have a win. Season two has delved even deeper into the specifics of each of these main characters. In the process, the writers have unraveled the intricate idea that some of their strengths also manifest as flaws. Sol is sometimes so overwhelmingly kind that he actually ends up hurting people. He thought he was doing the right thing by lying to Frankie, but he only winds up embarrassing her and making her feel worthless. Both characters are coming from a genuine, grounded place.
“The Coup” recenters the drama on the Bergstein-Hanson megafamily. Several of the season’s throughlines comes to a head. Grace realizes once and for all just how little Robert cared about her when she discovers a box of jewelry he pre-bought and labeled for various specific occasions. All along, she had thought Robert made the effort to go out and buy her thoughtful gifts when she was upset, something Frankie alludes to when Grace tries to apologize to her with wind chimes in “The Party.” In actuality, Robert put very little thought into these gifts, buying them ahead of time in an effort to keep things simple. Like Sol, Robert didn’t quite realize how much hurt he was inflicting with his actions.
The kids are really what seem like the extraneous parts of “The Coup,” which has some cogent emotional storytelling but isn’t nearly as tight or layered as “The Party.” Some of the conflict feels contrived and underdeveloped, like Frankie’s reignited anger with Coyote and Bud for making her feel like she can’t drive anymore. Grace once again catches Mallory confiding in others instead of coming to her. It feels less like building and more like redundancy, bringing back conflict—some of which has already been resolved—for the sake of heightening the drama of this episode. It’s a little clunky and transparent and lacks some of the natural, effortless build of the show’s best episodes (ahem: “The Party”!!).
But those moment tensions have strong payoff, factoring into the episode’s crown jewel: an impeccable scene in which Grace and Frankie reinforce their friendship once and for all by taking on a new form of partnership. Grace and Frankie are going into business together. They’re going to start a vibrator company. They’re tired of people—their children included—seeing them merely as old. And they’re tired of being emotionally manipulated by men, too. They’re just tired of it. And they’ve recently been ignited by the spark of Babe, who devoured life. Grace and Frankie decide to devour life too, to empower themselves with a new business adventure. They’re going to make vibrators for arthritic people. Nothing can stop them now.
Besides being one of the most hilarious scenes in Grace And Frankie history, the vibrator business pitch plays into the show’s most interesting theme regarding old people and sexuality and, in particular, postmenopausal women’s sexuality. Grace And Frankie never makes a joke of its older characters having sex. They desire. They’re full-fledged sexual beings. They’re dating and sex lives are as varied and complicated as the dating and sex lives of millennials on television. This finale takes that to the next level in a spectacular way. In their pitch to the family, Grace and Frankie are humming with the kind of energy this show needs after the darkness of the past several episodes. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are brilliant throughout—as they have been all season long—but they buzz with particularly magnetic vigor here. It’s a lengthy scene, but it deserves to be. And honestly, some of the more feeble parts of the episode end up being all worth it for that killer exit. That moment embodies everything I want from this show and everything I want from these exceptional leading ladies.
At the same time, “The Coup” is almost too bright in its ending, its characters recovering a little too quickly from all that has happened. But that’s just the kind of show this is—real and emotional but still warm and breezy at the end of the day. It works on this show, especially since all of the characters seem so real. Grace and Frankie’s reconciliation, ultimately, unfolds in a way that makes sense for both of the characters and where they’re at in life. This relationship has taken a lot of turns this season, but the place they end up at in the finale is ideal for the show and these characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Grace and Frankie are the best part of Grace And Frankie. And in “The Coup,” they’re both blazing toward new stages of their life—together.
- I have loved reviewing another season of this show. I’m always amazed at how much I have to say about it. Not a lot happens on this show, but that’s part of its magic. Thanks for reading!
- June Diane Raphael’s delivery of “stooooop” when Grace and Frankie go on and on about their vaginas is priceless. More Raphael in season three, please!
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s any official word on a third season yet. Cross your fingers!
- Frankie apparently shoots down drones with her t-shirt cannon.
- They might not be good enough for Kenny Loggins, but I actually love all of Frankie’s paintings.
- Coyote has a lizard named Spencer.