At the end of the day, the four, well-meaning, fully-grown Hansen and Bergstein kids just want to make sure their parents are taken care of. It's understandable, given the occasionally worrisome shenanigans that Grace (played by Jane Fonda) and Frankie (played by Lily Tomlin) get up to. But in Grace and Frankie Season 5, the line between worrying about their mothers' health and infringing on their right to make their own decisions seems to get thinner and thinner. What's more, this season seems to highlight the imbalance between how much stress the younger generation place on their mothers' care, as opposed to their fathers', and the result doesn't always seem quite fair.
In the first episode of Season 5, Grace and Frankie decide to finalize their escape from Walden Villas, squatting in the house that has just been sold. While it makes sense that the kids are upset by the erratic behavior, is the solution of checking in on them like they are a couple of cats in need of petsitting really the right response? When Grace and Frankie do finally convince Karina B. to give them back the house, shouldn't that serve as at least a small sign of their competence and ability to look out for themselves? Sure, this is a comedy, but it's worth thinking about why the kids don't trust their moms and leave the dads to their own devices.
Bud's deal with Frankie in Episode 2 — that she can babysit Faith if she agrees to have an aide come check on her — might set the next episodes up for some great comedic moments, but at its core it's actually quite a manipulative thing to do. While Bud is prone to semi-controlling behavior when it comes to the rest of his family — telling his father-in-law that his son is in jail, or forcing Sol to admit that he got the dog from a breeder, for example — it takes on a whole new level with his mother, crossing a line that never seems to be approached with any other character.
Why won't the family treat Grace and Frankie's friendship with the same sense of trust and respect it affords Sol and Robert's marriage?
Grace's daughters, too, are no better. Breanna's character is known for being brusque and cold, but after Grace moves back into the beach house, Bre is right there with the rest of them, coming up with fake reasons to stop in and check on the women. It seems a little contradictory at best, since shortly thereafter she accepts Grace's help in reviving Say Grace.
Despite the fact that Robert has also suffered a heart attack, the children don't seem nearly as concerned about checking up on his welfare or sending someone in to monitor his heart rate. Perhaps this is because he's in the capable hands of Sol, who ensures he eats healthy food and doesn't drink any alcohol. But this begs the question, then, why don't they trust Grace to do the same for Frankie? After all, the two women also live together and look out for one another. Why won't the family treat Grace and Frankie's friendship with the same sense of trust and respect it affords Sol and Robert's marriage?
The disconnect between the children and their mothers is part of what lends the show its lovable and original comedy, so without it they likely wouldn't have much of a story. In addition, the show is called Grace and Frankie, so it makes sense that the plot lines focus more on the two title characters rather than those around them. However, there is plenty of other substance to Grace and Frankie's respective stories that doesn't make them appear to be the feeble counterparts to their otherwise mostly self-sufficient ex-husbands, at least in the eyes of their children.
As the show moves forward, it would be great to see the balance shift somewhat, showing that the women aren't quite as on the verge of totally losing it as their families make them seem. Or at the very least, to even the playing field, and make it an even trait between all of the four main characters.