Most of television’s conflicts would be resolved in a matter of five minutes—or not even happen in the first place—if characters just said what they really meant, especially on sitcoms, where miscommunications and misunderstandings drive so much of the drama. Hell, so many conflicts in real life would be avoided if people just said what they mean and were honest about what they really want. But there are so many times when it’s tempting to tell harmless little lies: when you’re starting a new relationship, when you’re trying to protect your own feelings or the feelings of others, when you’re trying to diffuse tension. “The Invitation” hinges on emotional dishonesty and explores what happens when the characters finally come clean about what they really mean. And spoiler alert: The honesty works out…for the most part.
Grace’s relationship with Guy is going great (which I sincerely hope means the sex has gotten a lot better than when we last saw it) on the surface, but Grace isn’t being herself. She pretends to like golfing and hoagies and parades, and Frankie calls her out instantly. The biggest lie she tells is making Guy think she’s on good terms with Robert. As a result, Guy invites Robert along golfing, and Robert asks Guy to be the officiant at his wedding.
Even though they are, by definition, dishonest, Grace’s lies come from a very emotionally honest place for the character. She wants Guy to think she likes the things he likes, because she’s afraid that if she doesn’t, he’ll find someone else. In other words—cue the awwws—Grace really likes Guy. And she finally comes clean and tells him, after a push or two from Frankie. Grace and Frankie has been a much more compelling show to watch ever since Grace and Frankie’s dysfunction turned into a relationship in which they both challenge one another and learn from each other. Grace needed Frankie to tell her to be real with Guy.
And Frankie needed Grace to tell her to set some real boundaries with Sol. The post-breakup politics and reshuffling of expectations that Frankie and Sol have confronted in this episode and “The Spelling Bee” have made for some very truthful and grounded storytelling. Their breakup is starkly different from Grace and Robert’s and inherently more multifaceted in its aftermath because these two are still, it seems, best friends. Frankie marches over to Sol’s to tell him they need to set boundaries, only to accidentally slip into old habits throughout, like immediately filling him in about Jacob the yam man and, quite literally, breaking bread together.
It isn’t until Frankie’s lost wedding invitation mystery is solved that she finally comes clean to Sol. But again, it takes some pushing. Sol asks her point-blank if she wants to come to the wedding. She sputters out an “I think I should” and a “you want me to,” but Sol reminds her that’s not the question at hand. Finally, she tells the truth. She doesn’t want to go to the wedding, because she thinks it will be too painful. Her words break Sol’s heart, and Sam Waterston captures the moment so beautifully. The series seems to slowly be arriving at the conclusion that Frankie and Sol will have to eventually stop seeing each other altogether, which would be a very bold writing move because it complicates things in terms of the show’s structure. If Sol’s sticking around on the show, it would be a huge restriction on the character if he suddenly can’t have scenes with Frankie. That would just leave us with Sol/Robert scenes, and their dynamic has been pretty one-note lately.
But so far Grace And Frankie has been brutally honest when it comes to Frankie and Sol, and if the writers are going to continue down that path, it seems like Frankie and Sol are going to have to see less and less of each other, for at least a while. Based on episode titles, it looks like we’re getting a wedding episode for the season finale. Even though it’s probably tempting to write Frankie into that wedding for some natural conflict, I sort of hope Frankie—and the writers—stick to not going. That wouldn’t really be the conventional sitcom choice, but it would be the honest one.
Meanwhile, in Brianna Land, Brianna is trying to boost sales at the beauty company, but no one has any fresh ideas. She decides to pitch Frankie’s homemade farm-to-vagina lube (“Personal lubricant is for everybody!”). Her story here doesn’t really fit the rest of the episode thematically, and it seems to be there mostly to introduce a new potential romance for Brianna with Barry from accounting. It’s not as strong as recent Brianna storylines, but at least the writers seem pretty aware that Brianna is the only one of the children that viewers would really be all that interested in seeing regularly. Because of the Netflix model—which obviously doesn’t allow for adjustments to be made to the season is made available to the public—they could have easily gambled the wrong way on that one and loaded us down with a bunch of Mallory side plots, or worse, Coyote.
- “Nobody wants lotion socks. You need to stop saying it.”
- “Frankie, freeze! I’m gonna take a picture of your dysfunction!” Grace has been spending a lot of time with Frankie and is starting to pick up her theatrical quirks.
- Frankie, on folding fitted sheets: “Anyone who can do this is a powerful witch.” Grace: “I can do it.” Frankie: “I rest my case.”
- Sol and Robert fight about the U.S. Postal Service often, it would seem.
- Frankie’s subconscious is named Joanne, and Sol’s subconscious is named Armando.
- Grace sure seems a lot more comfortable talking about vaginal dryness, lube, and sex in general in the opening scene with Brianna and Frankie. See, Frankie is good for her! This also makes me believe she’s having slightly better sex with Guy now.
- THIS SHIRT: