Apple TV+‘s Physical is billed as a dramedy, and it’s exactly that. Sometimes shows are presented as a dramedy even if they’re mostly a comedy or mostly a drama. Physical, however, stays in that middle ground brilliantly. It’s funny, but it’s also mostly funny in that slightly uncomfortable way. You know, the kind that makes you laugh, but not always because things are super funny, but because what else are you going to do but laugh?
It’s also, I will admit, incredibly triggering.
Before I go into the specifics, though, here’s the trailer for the show, which makes it pretty clear what the triggering part is, something I always appreciate from my trailers. So click on this, and be warned – eating disorders are a big part of what you’re about to see:
Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, “Physical” is a half-hour dark comedy following Sheila Rubin, a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband’s bid for state assembly. But behind closed doors, Sheila has her own darkly funny take on life she rarely lets the world see. She’s also battling a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image… that is, until she finds release through the unlikeliest source: the world of aerobics.
If you enjoyed the trailer, you’re going to enjoy the show. It captures the essence of Sheila, and it also serves as a showcase for Rose Bryne, who is a truly captivating actress. Fans of her, in particular, will enjoy the nuance she brings to a character that could have just been a stereotype. The writing helps her so much in this, too, though, as Sheila is allowed to be dry, sarcastic, dark and sometimes even mean, without the show ever judging her for feeling things.
My particular issue, of course, is that so much of what she feels is tied into her eating disorder. In general, I tend to avoid this trigger, because it hits a little too close to home. I watched this before the trailer was even out, though, and that sometimes means you have the chance to get surprised by wonderful things, and other things it means you cannot escape the triggering parts you might have known about.
Probably the most upsetting part is how well it’s done, to be honest. Sheila’s inner monologue about food feels real, feels like something I’ve heard before, in my own head, and that’s just super hard to watch on a TV show. And, in general, I personally feel the entire show is colored by this, in the sense that, even when it’s enjoyable, and it’s enjoyable a lot, it’s never easy to watch.
If food isn’t a trigger for you, you might be able to look past that and enjoy it. Maybe, if food is a trigger, this warning will be enough. For me, however, I never truly got to the point where this was just enjoyable, even if it truly was, in parts. And as interesting as I found some parts, I’m very sure I wouldn’t want to watch this one again.
Are you excited for Apple TV’s Physical? Share with us in the comments below!
Apple TV’s Physical will be released on June 18th, with three episodes dropping that day, and the rest of the episodes dropping weekly.