June Diane Raphael Talks Filming 'Grace and Frankie' During COVID with 'Most Vulnerable Cast' on TV

"I think this is our best season yet," June Diane Raphael tells PEOPLE of the seventh and final season of Netflix's Grace and Frankie, which she's been filming during the COVID-19 pandemic

June Diane Raphael attends the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys at Microsoft Theater on September 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty

June Diane Raphael is preparing to bid farewell to Grace and Frankie with the seventh and final season.

The actress, 41, tells PEOPLE about the "bittersweet" conclusion of the series and filming with "probably the most vulnerable cast in all of television" during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she arrives Saturday at the 73rd Annual Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

She stars in the Netflix series as Brianna, the take-no-prisoners CEO of her mother Grace's cosmetics company Say Grace. The show revolves around Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), two women who embark on a second act in their golden years after their respective husbands Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) come out as gay and leave them for each other.

"So I know that everybody's been really serious about protocols and keeping everyone safe, especially with the population of our cast and the age of our cast," Raphael explains. "But it is totally bittersweet. It feels so great to be together. We're having so much fun. We just finished the 13th episode this week, so we're finishing up a series."

Grace and Frankie
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Raphael adds that she and her costars were "all just so happy to be together" after the 11-time Emmy-nominated show shut down production in March 2020, five episodes into the final season (The first four episodes dropped last month on Netflix).

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"It's just been wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and everybody's spirits are so high. And I think that's been a gift. If there are any from such a difficult time, it's that no one is taking this for granted. Everybody is really grateful to experience each other and work together," she says. "It's been so much fun. I think this is our best season yet, and I think the energy on set is the best it's ever been."

Grace and Frankie
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

The comedian has also grown close to her TV family since the show premiered in 2015, including her onscreen sister Brooklyn Decker and stepbrothers Ethan Embry and Baron Vaughn.

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"For me, it's the first time I've really been a part of a long-running series, or at least this long," she notes. "I would read about people crying, and the crew is your family, and everybody feels this togetherness, and wonder what that was like. And boy I'm in it right now, and it's remarkable the connections that you make with everyone after this amount of time."

See June Diane Raphael in the final episodes of Grace and Frankie, coming soon to Netflix.

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