Grace and Frankie tells the story of two older women (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) dealing with the aftermath of their husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) falling in love with each other. Creator and showrunner Marta Kauffman said during an ATX Television Festival panel today that season 4 will be “really about the women coming to terms with age, coming to terms with how old they are, where their bodies are at this point, where their minds are at this point and what does that imply, what does that mean?” 

“We take a deep dive in season 4 into Brianna’s love life,” added June Diane Raphael, who plays Grace’s daughter Brianna. “Then there are some complications with Grace in Season 4 that are really interesting, and Mallory (Brooklyn Decker) is involved in that storyline.”

“Mallory’s going through this divorce in the first part of Season 4 and she’s definitely in that rut,” Decker said. Then, following the divorce, she will become “really entrenched in this family now.”

Lily Tomlin, Marta Kauffman
Netflix

Dealing with life as an older person is central to the show’s premise, explained Kauffman. “These characters are in their 70s,” she said. “Things start to happen in your mid-70s that you have to deal with. You know the car starts to break down.”

Casting will also reflect the theme. “We’ve cast a lot of people older than Grace and Frankie, significantly older,” said casting director Tracy Lilienfield. “These are people that don’t often get a chance to audition, let alone get a job, and they have stories to tell.”

As one of the first really popular shows to prove the power of Netflix, Kauffman said she has enjoyed working with the freedom of the streaming service. “The greatest advantage is you are not arbitrarily forced into a structure. What’s fantastic about something like Netflix is you can take as much time as you need to tell your story and the story then tells us what the structure is.”

Another aspect of moving away from network television, the Friends creator added, is that “network television doesn’t like arcs, because once you syndicate, things get out of order and people get confused I guess. Netflix loves the arc so you don’t have to tie everything up with every episode, you can tell the story over a season and that’s very liberating.”

Season 4 will stream on Netflix next year.