When we last left Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne), she was on her way to the top of the Aerobics game. But success will not come easy with all of the new challenges standing in her way, including new management, new competition and a completely different home life now that her husband Danny (Rory Scovel) lost his election bid.
The first thing I noticed about Season Two of PHYSICAL was its scope. We are not confined to people’s homes and the mall anymore – we are out and about, being introduced to all of the returning characters in much larger, more populated settings. Covid-related or not, that increased scope speaks to how much more expansive Season Two feels versus Season One, and how much deeper Showrunner/Series Creator Annie Weisman wants us to travel on Sheila’s journey. The Show still has its bleak sense of humour and its streak of foreboding darkness (not to mention its central themes revolving around addiction, body dysmorphia and casual misogyny), yet it feels refreshing to have so much less focus on Danny and his political aspirations this go-round. Seeing him take a backseat to Sheila’s quest for greater success opens the world of PHYSICAL up to such greater possibilities and more interesting storylines for Weisman and Crew to explore.
And yes, the outfits, hairstyles and the inspired musical choices are still just as impeccable as they were the first time. If you love the ’80s even half as much as I do, you will be very pleased.
The Cast is rock solid all-around, settling into their characters with ease. Dierdre Friel’s expanded role as Greta is easily an early highlight, and Scovel’s interpretation of Danny after political defeat makes for an interesting antithesis to last season. Murray Bartlett (the Emmy-nominated MVP from last Summer’s deliciously devious The White Lotus), is the key new character in the Ensemble, playing Vinnie Green, a fellow self-made Aerobics Instructor and Infomercial personality. He straight-up steals the show anytime he pops on-screen. Byrne still stands high above everyone else though, with her vicious narration – which is often just as hilarious as it is harrowing – and her hunger for success and the power that comes with it. The Series continues to be her strongest work to date, practically soaring as she throws herself recklessly into every situation and tries to not overthink the consequences. Byrne was always the highlight of so many of her projects and seeing her continue to lead this cast in this bold, no-nonsense role is truly exhilarating.
Season One of Apple TV+’s PHYSICAL took us on a journey with Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) battling her inner-demons, but also finding success on her own in the ’80s. The Series is back for a second season, with ten brand-new episodes! Season Two has Sheila battling loyalty to her husband Danny (Rory Scovel) and also an attraction to someone new. No longer the only one in the fitness game, she finds herself having to dig-in and beat-out the new competition.
Our David Baldwin had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the Cast and Showrunner of PHYSICAL, including:
Annie Weisman – Showrunner/Producer
Rory Scovel – Danny
Rose Byrne – Sheila
Dierdre Friel – Greta
Murray Bartlett – Vinnie
ANNIE WEISMAN (SHOWRUNNER/PRODUCER)
Annie Weisman comments on the Series’ portrayal of Eating Disorders and Mental Illness, with Sheila going from one addiction to another.
Weisman: “One of our goals of this season was to authentically demonstrate how Eating Disorders are often misunderstood as really being about the disordered eating behaviour itself, and not about the core issues. One of the ways we demonstrated that are how Sheila gains control of her Eating Disorder, but it doesn’t get rid of the core problem and she hops from one addiction to another. We’re being true to the time period in which there’s still so much stigma surrounding Therapy and naming Mental Illness, in women in particular. And it really does take her a long time to have the strength to come forward, and reveal her struggles and seek any kind of help.”
“When we do depict her in the season finally seeking-out help, we also show how radical and out of the mainstream those sources of help were. They really were brand-new.”.
David asks Weisman about the great amount of detail and commitment to the Series being authentically ’80s.
Weisman: “I have the very good fortune of having grown-up in exactly this period of time and place, so one of my many jobs as Showrunner is to oversee choices in terms of style and specificity, but I also work with an incredible Creative Team, who down to every detail, prop and on a large and small scale, ensuring things are period-appropriate. One thing that contributes to the real sense of authenticity in the Show is that we try to depict life as it really is, which is to say that people actually live their lives as an amalgamation of a lot of periods. You’ll see in some people’s homes that things aren’t just from that exact year, you have a lot of the past in there as well. And these characters when we meet them, are kinda living in the past. So you feel that authentic texture of the many decades lived in those spaces. That was important to me as an overall aesthetic.”
“We also shoot with a lens that gives things a bit of a different texture. These lenses give it that feel that you don’t necessarily notice right away, but overall makes it feel like you’re back in time.”
“Music is also a really big part of our storytelling. So it’s important the Music has the regional feel of Southern California at that time. So we start with the textures and sounds of songs that maybe were popular in the time period our characters came of age. So they bring that ’60s Guitar Acoustic sound with them. But then we see it evolve as Sheila gets more into exercise and the ’80s mentality, and you hear the Electronic Music coming in.”.
RORY SCOVAL (DANNY RUBIN)
Rory Scoval‘s Danny while a bit depisable, does have some redeeming qualities, which he tells us about in this upcoming season.
Scoval: “I think there needs to be a little bit of that or else they become this person. Despite their story and situation, you feel this negative thing and are not excited to see them or where they’re at. Even a character like Danny in Season One and especially Two, there has to be a sliver of likability that we can see that a lot of your faults come from a place of insecurity. Then maybe I can relate to that and I don’t think you’re an evil or a bad person – you’ve just got some stuff you’ve got to work out. I think it’s really important and I’m fortunate enough that in Season Two, Danny gets placed in a position to earn that likability that he really does care about his kid and care about being a good dad, his wife and her business succeeding. But he also has to balance-out his ego about it.”.
David asks Scoval talks about the theme of Toxic Masculinity and what he’s learned about it.
Scoval: “Anyone who has an awareness of Toxic Masculinity, you’re kind of aware of it stepping into a Show like this. It’s an opportunity to showcase something like that and the harm it has on people. Movies and Shows give someone a chance to understand what someone is talking about when they are talking about Toxic Masculinity, and they also can show the effects it has on people. I like that I get to step into a role that can showcase something like that, a subject that people do relate to, and they wish people were more aware of.”.
ROSE BYRNE (SHEILA) & DEIRDRE FRIEL (GRETA)
Rose Byrne speaks about her physical preparation for Season Two.
Byrne: “This Season was really interesting because it opened-up the world for a lot of other characters. We explore stuff just outside of Sheila‘s inner-demons this Season. In terms of preparation, what was really great was working with our Choreographer Jen Hamilton, and it’s such a signal of what’s required to becoming the kind of athlete an Aerobics Instructor really is. It’s such high-intensity and Cardio, so I really leaned on her. And Annie Weisman – the Showrunner and Creator – it’s such a deeply-personal story for her. She’s always a touchstone for me just setting the tone, answering all my questions and and questions about the world itself. I love the setting, it’s such a specific time and it’s an immservice job in a way because it’s historical, it adds to the fun of it.”
Byrne and Friel talk about their favourite Costumes and Hairstylesin Season Two.
Byrne: “I can talk about the Costumes all day, that’s our Special Effects. I love it. This Season I wore this dress – lemon yellow and halter-neck, silk cut on the bust – it was just gorgeous with this incredible Veronica-like hair. It was just ’79-’80s.”
Friel: “They built me a bunch of dresses this year. Ernesto (Costume Department)was like, ‘You’re rich, San Diego”. They built me this gold Brocade sort of dress – gold and black – gave me a red lip and it was so pretty.”.
Friel talks about Body Image and navigating this industry.
Friel: “As a plus-size woman in the industry, it can be challenging. The way I look can often be the point of me being there, and not always in a positive light. It’s challenging and wears down at you. Even if you leave your work at work, it can sometimes seep-in.”
“I’m grateful the way we’re talking about this though. We’re talking about Eating Disorders in a way that’s never been talked about.”.
MURRAY BARTLETT (VINNIE)
Critics’ Choice Award Winner Murray Bartlett has had quite a run with his recent scene-stealking work, including The White Lotus and now his role as charismatic Fitness Instructor Vinnie, joining the Cast. David asks him about what draws him to Vinnie.
Bartlett: “I guess I’m just naturally a Scene-Stealer (laughs). I think these characters are really beautifully-written. I feel like I’ve been very fortunate in The White Lotus that Mike White wrote this incredibly-complicated, fantastic character. Similarly on this Show, Annie Weisman has created this amazing Character. I feel like I’m just sorta connecting-the-dots in terms of what they’ve written. I love playing a compelx character and I feel like these characters are created in that way you get to fully explore the aspects of these characters. I got lucky and I’m really enjoying what I’m doing at the moment. These characters don’t fall on your lap every day. A lot of my work has been done for me and I just try to have a great time and find the nuances in them. I hope I’m not too distracting!”.
Bartlett is asked about how hard it is to identify with his larger-than-life Character.
Bartlett: “I think it’s harder to watch yourself do these kind of characters. As an Actor it’s easier to watch something closer to yourself because you can just keep-check of whether or not you’re being honest. With these characters, it can be difficult to watch because you can be, ‘Oh! What is happening?’, even though there’s an enormous amount of joy in playing these kind of characters.”
“We’re in this bizaare time that can feel overwhelming what’s happening in the world. To play a character that is fully-expressed and giving vent to whatever trauma they’re going through, or demons they’re battling, or even to commit to something obsessively, is somehow therapeutic and a great release. I wonder whether that has anything to these type of characters bubbling-up.”.
Season Two of PHYSICAL arrives June 3, 2022 on Apple TV+.
PHYSICAL is an under-appreciated gem, and we’re so thrilled that Season Two isn’t too far away. Here’s a first look, plus the new Trailer!
Season two finds our hero Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) having successfully launched her first fitness video only to encounter some new and bigger obstacles on her path. She is torn between loyalty to her husband (Rory Scovel) and the values he represents, and a dangerous attraction to someone else. And since she’s no longer the only game in town, she finds herself having to outrun some fierce new competitors on the road to building a full-fledged fitness empire.
In addition to Byrne, “Physical” stars Rory Scovel, Dierdre Friel, Della Saba, Lou Taylor Pucci and Paul Sparks. Joining the all-star ensemble cast for season two is Critics Choice Award-winner Murray Bartlett (“The White Lotus”) in the new role of “Vincent ‘Vinnie’ Green,” a charismatic fitness instructor, weight-loss guru, and pioneer of the late-night infomercial.
PHYSICAL Season Two arrives Friday, June 3, 2022 on Apple TV+.
Rose Byrne continues to build on an impeccable streak of work with recent successes like Mrs. America. Upcoming ’80s-set Apple TV+ Series PHYSICAL is no different, Byrne starring as a housewife named Sheila, supporting her husband Danny (Rory Scovel) in his all-encompassing bid to run for state.
Sheila is battling some own nasty demons in her head and sometimes these are rather crippling. Ceasing an opportunity to lead her own Aerobics class on the looming VHS video format, she begins to find herself, carving her own identity as she grapples with some deep unhappiness in many aspects of her life, including her marriage and relationship with her parents.
Facing some opposing forces that were part of the era the story is set and even today, we see her left to her own devices making ends meet to realize a dream of her own, while keeping it all a secret from those closest to her.
Byrne truly is a force and is fierce, funny, crude yet magnetic in Sheila‘s often suppressed voice. Craig Gillespie (Cruella, I, Tonya) has a hand in helming, once again showing his great skill at bringing to life misunderstood, complex characters which are in a perpetual gray area making questionable choices but right in their own minds about it.
Ten episodes of PHYSICAL arrives on AppleTV+June 18, 2021 and we’re already hooked!
Rose Byrne is back in PHYSICAL, which arrives soon on Apple TV+. See this new Teaser!
Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, “Physical” is a half-hour dark comedy following Sheila Rubin (Byrne), 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.
PHYSICAL arrives Friday, June 18, 2021 on Apple TV+ with new episodes arriving weekly.