Beautiful, slim, privileged; outside, his life seems perfect. But inside, Sheila, played by Rose Byrne, struggles with a complex eating disorder and goes through a monotonous life in the shadow of her husband, a man who wants his wife to cook, clean and have threesomes.
And then she discovers the shiny, spandex-wrapped world of aerobics. “You alone have the power to change yourself” becomes a new mantra.
Set against the backdrop of the sun-drenched San Diego of the 1980s, Byrne Physical’s new series is a dark comedy about a devoted wife’s rise to a lifestyle guru, all the time while fighting. his inner demons; it explores the pressures on women – and the pressures women put on themselves – to look a certain appearance.
The actress, best known for her role as alpha bridesmaid Helen in Bridesmaids, says Sheila is “an extreme version of the duality” of many women.
“She obviously has a terrible disease, an addiction that she lives with, and we’re meeting her at a breaking point,” Byrne told Sky News. “But there is this idea of appearance; on the outside she looks perfect and she’s skinny and pretty and white and all that stuff but yet she’s completely self-destructive on the inside. She has all these privileges… but yet it doesn’t matter.
“I think it’s uniquely feminine in a way, having that kind of inner destruction. A lot of times I see representations of, you know, external, and this and that – drinking and that kind of destructive side of women. But I have the impression that it is often internal work that we do. “
Physics shows that anyone can suffer from issues with their body image no matter what they look like.
Created by Annie Weisman, known for her work on shows such as Desperate Housewives, Sheila’s eating disorder story is based on the writer’s own experiences when she was younger.
“It’s uncomfortable and it’s not represented [very often on screen] Byrne says. “I don’t know, why is that? I mean, it’s a hard thing to write and it’s a hard thing to show. I don’t think it’s something that people particularly gravitate towards. It’s kind of an opportunity to start a conversation about it. “
Sheila’s story shows “the sordid nature of the disease and this addictive quality that it has,” Byrne adds. “Like any addiction, you know it’s always, ‘This was the last time. I just had to do it one more time, and then I’m fine and won’t do it again. ‘ And you keep falling back into this very destructive pattern. “
At first, it’s the exercise part of aerobics that Sheila loves, but true autonomy comes when she harnesses burgeoning videotape technology to revolutionize the industry. While on-screen workouts are now everywhere, from celebrity DVDs to Instagram lives with wellness gurus, it all stems from the trend that emerged in the 1980s.
“It was really tough,” Byrne told Sky News, speaking of his inner Jane Fonda. “You know, I’m not coordinated, I’m not a dancer. I am basically lazy. So I was really intimidated by this task. “
Weisman says she wanted to use the distinctively feminine space of aerobics as an empowering force.
“Having struggled for decades with eating disorders and feeling really disconnected from my body, aerobics and exercise was a place where you could really embrace some kind of strength and power,” he said. she told Sky News. “And like so many things that are specifically female spaces, I think that’s easily dismissed.
“Whether or not women – or men – have this specific struggle with food, I think a lot of people identify with having some sort of shameful secret, an obsessive habit that allows them to hold back really difficult and unmanageable feelings.
“We’re not interested in exploitation or anything sinister, but really just emotional truth. So I don’t think you need to have an eating disorder to bring it about. But, you know, eating disorders are certainly a lingering threat in our culture today. “
Another issue the show explores is the power dynamics between men and women.
Sheila masks her troubles and desires and is seemingly a sweet, gentle wife, overtaking her husband as he submits for the state assembly – but while her character lives in the background (at beginning, at least), Byrne is truly the star of the show.
The issue of female-directed movies and TV series has come to the fore in recent years as diversity in front and behind the camera slowly improves, but it looks like there are a lot of male stars out there who aren’t. happy to play second violin for a woman.
“It is worth knowing that one of the main reasons why so many women-centered projects have not been realized for so long was not because they weren’t written and commissioned, but because they weren’t written and commissioned. that they couldn’t find a bankable male star who would agree to play the second string, ”Succession and I hate Suzie writer Lucy Prebble tweeted earlier in June.
And in February, the actress and director Olivia Wilde made headlines for praising her alleged boyfriend Harry Styles for playing a supporting role in his female-directed film, Don’t Worry Darling, claiming that “the industry has raised [male actors] believing that it diminishes their power (i.e. their financial worth) to take on these roles, which is one of the reasons it is so difficult to get funding for films with an emphasis on women’s stories ”.
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Comedian and actor Rory Scovel, who plays Sheila’s husband Danny Rubin, says he’s more than happy to play a supporting role alongside Byrne.
“Above all, I love being an employee,” he told Sky News. “So I would probably do anything. I don’t feel related to feeling like I need to be the leader or not feel like I’m not playing a supporting character for a female role. I understand that this is something and I understand that some people make their decisions and feel that way, but I really can’t relate to it.
“I don’t know if I’m so worried where [a] the character is part of the roster or who is actually the leader. I think it’s just exciting to be part of a series that is so well written, telling such an interesting story. It’s already funny that this is happening in the 80s and that we can wear these clothes and have this look, but also, in a totally opposite sentiment, follow someone like Rose and see her in action…
“I find it is an education that I need as an artist. I’d rather see someone like her literally show me in the front row how she operates and what she brings to her roles so that I can, you know, hopefully try to educate myself in what it is, so that I can be better. So yes, I feel quite the opposite. I am very grateful to have been able to be a part of the series. “
Apple Original Physical series, starring Rose Byrne, premieres on Apple TV + on Friday, June 18