When we last saw the Murphys of Netflix’s F Is for Family, the delightfully dysfunctional clan found themselves in the middle of a life and death event: Sue (Laura Dern) had just given birth to her fourth kid while Frank’s father Big Bill (Jonathan Banks) was seen keeling over in extreme distress. Audiences will get the resolution to the cliffhanger ending when the series returns next week, but the official trailer for Family’s fifth and final season — debuting right here on Vulture — offers some pretty clear indicators about his fate. (Spoilers ahead.) The opening seconds of the trailer show Frank (Bill Burr) dressed in a black suit, standing outside O’Doolihee’s Home for Funerals and Crematorium (the “last funeral home before highway”), followed not long after by Frank referring to his dad in the past tense, all while a melancholy instrumental version of the show’s theme song (Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love”) plays in the background. Even though nobody actually says the words “Big Bill is dead,” we’re pretty sure papa Murphy will not live to see Jimmy Carter in the White House. This certainly fits with Netflix’s official description for the plot of season five, which notes that as the show opens in the last weeks of 1974, the Murphys have been “rocked by loss” and that Frank has begun “a quest to understand the meaning of his father Big Bill’s life.”
Indeed, in a brief interview via email, F Is for Family exec producer Michael Price tells Vulture that the theme of this final season is closure, which, he notes, “really wasn’t a term thrown around a lot in the ’70s, and something you’d never think the Frank Murphy we knew when the series began would care about. He’s not been the most emotionally introspective guy. But the events of this past year in his life have changed Frank.” Over the course of the final ten episodes, Price says we’ll see Frank “trying to come to terms with his relationship with his dad and how he can somehow be a better father to his kids, especially to the new baby.” As for Sue, Frank’s tortured relationship with his dad inspires the Murphy matriarch to “patch up the deep rifts in her own family” and reconnect with her gay brother Louis (new cast member Neil Patrick Harris) “to hopefully get some healing there,” Price adds.
One thing the F Is for Family farewell won’t include is a time jump to show what might happen to the gang in the future — though Price admits he actually did explore that idea. “I briefly considered, but then decided against, doing a flash forward to see what Kevin is up to in the 2000s,” he says. In this road not taken, turns out that Sue and Frank’s eldest child has become, ironically enough, a family therapist. “I always thought he’d turn out very successful, just like so many of the stoners I knew in high school,” Price says. “Ultimately, there wasn’t time to do anything like look forward, so we never left the ’70s, [though] we will do a tiny hint of where young Bill is headed.” Having the show wrap up in 1974 also means the writers never had to deal with the D-word: disco. “We got through five seasons and 44 episodes without ever hearing a single note of disco,” he says, adding that staying away from the dance craze was intentional. “We always felt this show had to live in that part of the ’70s that had always been underrepresented in TV and movies — the dirty, dingy, rusted over pre-disco years,” Price explains. “So while I’m sad we have to end now, I’m grateful we were able to stick to that time capsule.”
The last chapter of F Is for Family lands on Netflix next Thursday, November 25.