‘Grace and Frankie’ Creator, Marta Kauffman, Explains Why She Opted to Explore Platonic Friendships

Grace and Frankie, the longest-running Netflix Original, has officially come to an end. After seven seasons, fans said goodbye to Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein in Malibu, where their friendship blossomed. The friendship between Grace and Frankie made for compelling TV. Show creator Marta Kauffman explained why she opted to explore the theme of friendship so intensely. 

[Warning: This article contains spoilers from Grace and Frankie Season 7.]

Marta Kauffman briefly considered making Grace and Frankie a romantic couple 

Grace and Frankie’s friendship was developed and nurtured over seven seasons. The decision was deliberate, but it almost didn’t happen that way. In 2015, Kauffman sat down with the Hollywood Reporter to discuss the Netflix original. Kauffman noted that she was trying to figure out how to show that you could change directions and change your life at any moment. A development executive pitched the idea of their husbands leaving them for each other. 

Lily Tomlin as Frankie and Jane Fonda as Grace in 'Grace and Frankie'
Lily Toml;in and Jane Fonda | Suzanne Tenner/NETFLIX © 2022

One early idea had Grace and Frankie falling for each other after Sol and Robert moved on. The idea fell away. Instead, Kauffman opted to have the unlikely pals navigating a platonic relationship instead. It turned out perfectly. 

Marta Kauffman explains the desire to explore platonic friendship 

Instead of making Grace and Frankie a romantic couple or focusing too intently on Sol and Robert as they navigated their romance, Kauffman and her team made Grace and Frankie’s friendship the enduring theme of the series. Not only was it a compelling foundation for the show, but it set Grace and Frankie apart from other comedies. 

Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda listen to honoree Marta Kauffman accept the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television onstage during the 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards at Hollywood Palladium
Marta Kauffman with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda looking on | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Kauffman explained her rationale. According to USA Today, Kauffman wanted to pay homage to the importance of platonic friendships, something she says often goes overlooked. She said, “We underestimate the importance of platonic friends. Especially for women.” Kauffman noted that while the duo often judged each other, in the end, they loved each other fiercely.  

Marta Kauffman insists the death of Frankie was never a serious storyline consideration 

While the final episode of Grace and Frankie revolved around the potential death of Frankie, the beloved character was never actually in danger. Kauffman explained that the notion of killing Frankie in the finale was never really an option. She said it would have destroyed all of the goodwill that had been built up over seven seasons. 

It would have been a tragic end for Grace and Frankie. It would have felt unoriginal, too. The Kominsky Method, another Netflix original comedy that put the spotlight on the aging community, began its final season with the death of a main character. Sure, it’s a part of life, but it would have felt forced in this case.

Grace and Frankie smile and walk along the beach.
Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie | Lara Solanki/Netflix

The death of beloved Frankie would have destroyed the possibility of a return in a spinoff series, even as a cameo, as well. June Diane Raphael said she has already submitted a spinoff series. The spinoff would focus on Raphael’s character, Brianna Hanson. It would be nice if Frankie showed up there, too. Netflix has not officially greenlit the project.

RELATED: ‘Grace and Frankie’: Lily Tomlin Regrets Agreeing to End the Show