Physical, episodes 1-3

Rose Byrne in Physical

Physical, a 10 part series on Apple TV+, released the first 3 episodes last week. Now it’s once a week until the final episode releases on August 10. Rose Byrne stars as an unhappy housewife in the 1980s who discovered aerobics classes just as videotape technology was about to disrupt the way we used our television screens.

Physical brings back memories of Olivia Newton-John bouncing around to her hit song by that name, as well as visions of Jane Fonda at the head of an exercise revolution based on videotapes.

Sheila (Rose Byrne) and her husband Danny (Rory Scovel) are stuck in the 1960s hippy culture. Except he’s now teaching at a college. She has a daughter in preschool to care for. Danny loses his teaching job and she urges him to run for office.

Sheila gets the idea for Danny’s campaign platform from a surfer who videotapes p0rn sometimes. She runs into him when she stumbles on her first aerobics class, taught by Bunny (Della Saba).

Sheila has a head full of nasty, mean, ugly, self-talk. She has bulimia and a very bad relationship with food. Rose Byrne is skinny and gorgeous, but we are supposed to accept that her self-image is fat and ugly. People with eating disorders don’t see themselves accurately, and Sheila is a good example of that.

Aerobics takes her out of her head. It lets her be free of destructive self-talk for a few minutes. Soon she’s teaching a class in Bunny’s studio. It doesn’t happen in the first 3 episodes, but it’s clear that she’s headed to a video deal teaching aerobics.

Other things that might be safe to predict at this point are marriage problems between Danny and Sheila and a great friendship between Sheila and Greta (Dierdre Friel), one of the other preschool mothers.

I think I’m going to enjoy Sheila’s slow burn and movement toward feminism and toward her own power. I haven’t decided from only 3 episodes if this is going to be a great series, but it certainly has me interested and will keep me coming back.

Women directors include Stephanie Laing and Liza Johnson. Annie Weisman created the series.

Here’s the preview.

Are you going to give this one a try?

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