Grace And Frankie

Grace And Frankie always makes the most of its simple sets, and “The Floor” is a striking example of how the writers and actors can get so much mileage out of a narratively simple premise, elevated by smart directing choices from Rebecca Asher. After throwing their backs in the first scene, Grace and Frankie spend the entire episode on the floor. Asher adds some artfulness to the playfulness of the setup, with aerial shots of Frankie sprawled out on the floor that evoke the calm but helpless nature of her predicament. Grace and Frankie’s bodies are lifeless throughout “The Floor”—a slow-motion race to the phone is the most action they get—but the episode is anything but.

Their injuries bring out their clashing personalities. Grace and Frankie are back to being best friends after their brief but intense breakup last episode, but they still are as polarizing as ever. Grace wants to find a way to still have their meeting with a woman about their company’s website. Frankie wants to cancel the meeting. Even their approaches to limited mobility reinforce these differences: Grace ambitiously crawls, while Frankie takes the more practical route of scooting on her back. Grace gets there faster but in more pain, and she finally admits defeat. Her tenacity ties back to the fears she expressed last episode when Mallory and Brianna suggested she’s getting to the age where she needs to be taken care of.

Alexa Junge’s script here matches Julieanne Smolinski’s last episode in emotional honesty and saying a lot with a little. Just as Asher’s direction makes the most of a very confined space for the episode to unfold, Junge uses very little dialogue to convey big ideas. Grace tells a story about being a little girl and climbing to the top of a tree in her neighborhood faster than any of the boys could. She still feels like that girl. Frankie recalls getting a bike on her ninth birthday and riding it throughout the parade on July 4. Frankie assures Grace that little girl is not gone. “I still see her in you, when you’re giving me shit about being a sucky neighborhood or you’re chucking towels and hats at me,” she says. The specificity of her examples are not only funny but also add to the authenticity of this portrayal of deep friendship. They’re examples that get to the heart of Grace and Frankie’s dynamic. Frankie points out that Grace is still climbing trees, only now it’s banks and incubators. It’s a touching moment, but it isn’t corny. The dialogue has enough specificity and familiarity to avoid feeling broad, and Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda are, as always, wholly convincing in their delivery and the small physical cues that add more meaning to their words. “The Floor” expertly unravels complex emotions within a simple, funny premise.

While the writers often struggle to make the kids as compelling as their parents, one thing I’ve always loved about storylines shared by all four children is how well they all know each other. With Robert and Sol married, they’re now technically step-siblings, but it’s clear that they were siblings long before the depth of Robert and Sol’s relationship came out. After his fight with Bus, Coyote finally makes moves on finding his own place, and Brianna and Mallory step in to help him out, genuinely worried. Much to Brianna’s dismay, he ends up buying a tiny house (she has several bones to pick with the self-important folks of Tiny House Hunters). When Coyote tells Bud he bought a tiny house, Bud immediately replies “the ones Brianna hates?” It’s meant to be a joke, but it also reveals how well Bud knows Brianna. The closeness of the siblings adds another layer to the dysfunctional but loving family relationships that define the series.

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Robert and Sol have the gay pastor from last season over for brunch, and Robert seizes the opportunity to seek some spiritual guidance about the fact that he saw his mother while trying to get intimate with Sol. Given that his mother isn’t dead, her appearance isn’t a ghost so much as the manifestation of the shame that has resurfaced since his coming out to her. He can feel that she believes he’s going to hell, but it’s an internalized fear, too. Robert isn’t so sure he isn’t going to hell. Robert, Sol, and John all engage in a deep but specific conversation about religion that again touches on big ideas within simple, straightforward dialogue. Robert has a bit of a breakthrough when John explains his concept of heaven: People are remembered in the afterlife as they are in life. Martin Sheen conveys the breakthrough beautifully, evoking just how much John’s words resonate with him.

Robert and Sol eventually make their way to Grace and Frankie and after rattling through some body issues of their own, they finally manage to get the women back up and running well enough for a video-chat meeting about their website. The men helping out the women as they push through the meeting makes for a funny and sweet ending, again highlighting the rich relationship dynamics of the show. Robert and Sol have imperfect relationships with their ex-wives, but they’re still there for them in their moment of need. All four of these people have each other’s backs. And in “The Floor,” that’s especially important.

Stray observations

  • According to Frankie, Grace would be laughed right out of her coven.
  • Frankie has been flirting with Grace even more than usual this season. She remarks on how striking Grace is when Grace has to crawl over her to get to the phone.
  • “Well, we’ll just have to call Rudy at Rudy’s pizza.”
  • Sol smacking down Robert’s hand after Grace asks who’s good with lipstick is the funniest moment of the episode.
  • Bud: “You’re my brother. I’m glad mom bought you.” Coyote: “I’m glad mom bought you, too.”

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