Grace and Frankie’s third season is off to a slow start. The first episode of the new season, “The Art Show,” starts exactly where the second season left off. There’s no flashy reintroduction to the characters.
We rejoin Grace and Frankie in the middle of their quest for legitimacy. Grace (Jane Fonda) wants to prove that older woman can still get loans for their businesses. However, the product gets in the way just as much as the fact that she’s 73 because it makes everyone blush. The 30-year-old men responsible for approving the loans don’t want to hear how their grandmothers have arthritis and therefore need specialty vibrators. It doesn’t help that neither Grace nor Frankie (Lily Tomlin) verbally beat around the bush, which is as refreshing as it is awkward. The show encourages older women to be frank about their sexual needs, much to the chagrin of their children.
As for Frankie, this episode focuses on the art show Frankie’s friend Babe left Frankie in her will. Frankie is nervous no one will buy her paintings or phallic shaped vases. Sol (Sam Waterston) is worried Frankie will never forgive him for the time Kenny Loggins didn’t buy her art, so he invites Kenny Loggins to the show and manages to screw that up again.
Sol still loves Frankie, his wife of 40 years, even though he’s now married to Robert (Martin Sheen). Fortunately, Robert understands that Sol worries about Frankie’s feelings because Sol hates anyone being mad at him. Robert also tries to prevent Sol from making his self-inflicted wounds worse. It’s obvious the two men love each other and that Waterston and Sheen are talented actors. However, I still can’t shake the image of the President (Martin Sheen, The West Wing) having an affair with New York’s District Attorney (Sam Waterston, Law & Order).
“The Art Show” doesn’t further Grace and Frankie’s plot. Instead, it serves as sort of a homecoming. These are familiar characters, but the family dynamics between the exes and their children need to be reintroduced because it is complicated, partly because all four adult children think of Grace, Frankie, Sol, and Robert as their parents, even if some of those relationships are strained.
On its own, “The Art Show” isn’t great. It’s simply a taste of what’s to come. Think of it like the first potato chip you eat from a bag. It may not be the best, yet you can’t stop eating because there’s some intangible quality you enjoy. Grace and Frankie is that show. It’s meant to be binge-watched, not analyzed on an episode-by-episode basis.