Today’s winter TCA presser kicked off with a first look at the upcoming Apple TV+ dark comedy series, Physical, starring Rose Byrne, who also serves as an executive producer along with creator and showrunner Annie Weisman.
Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, the show follows Sheila Rubin (Byrne), a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband’s bid for state assembly. As she battles a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image, she finds release through the unlikeliest source: the world of aerobics.
“A lot of what we’re exploring in the show is the divide between the external and the internal for so many women,” said Weisman, who was joined by Byrne and co-star Rory Scovel, who plays Danny Rubin in the series. “I think one of the ways that Rose inhabits that so beautifully is that you see that. This is true for so many women and not just women in show business, but that no matter how polished and perfect the external gets, there’s a tremendous amount of turmoil under the surface. There is so many internalized feelings of self-hatred, and it’s not about what you see in the mirror, but it’s about what you’ve observed culture from your family and from your experience. And that’s a lot of what we’re exploring in the show is that divide.”
Sheila’s real road to empowerment comes when she discovers a way to merge this newfound passion with the burgeoning technology of videotape to start a revolutionary business.
“She catches this wave and comes up with this great idea to put this liberating, physical exercise onto videotape,” said Weisman. “What the show really tracks is her journey from becoming someone who kind of takes all her powerful feelings and turns them inward. And then she discovers a way to harness that and really bring it out or by putting it onto videotape and sharing it with the world. So she really becomes a powerful force.”
Bryne was in the midst of shooting the FX 1970s-set series, Mrs. America, playing activist and prominent feminist Gloria Steinem when she got the call for Physical. “In a funny way, Physical felt like such a great companion piece because Sheila is a young woman, but definitely has come up through the sixties and seventies. So she’s sort of a child of that movement. And yet she’s become quite disillusioned by it,” said Bryne.
“This is really following a feminist from that time and discovering her real source of empowerment is to have financial independence, to have economic independence,” she continued. “It’s still a very challenging time for women to find that independence. It doesn’t necessarily come from the feminist movement of that time, in all ways. It was a really, really beautiful timely piece for me personally, in that way, in terms of discovering characters.
Physical will be available to stream sometime this summer.