Content warning: Disordered eating. Information and resources for those struggling with eating disorders are available at: anad.org or (888)375-7767
Her self-talk is accurate. If eating-disorders are difficult for you (as they are for me), please don’t watch this while eating. Watch it, for sure. But not over a meal. This is a triggering nightmare for people on the edge.
“In the first moments of “Physical,” … on Apple TV+, Sheila (Rose Byrne), a homemaker in San Diego, Calif., looks in the mirror. She doesn’t like what she sees. “Look at you,” she says to herself in a vicious voice-over. “I mean, seriously. Do you really think you’re pulling this whole thing off? The disco sex kitten look? At your age?”
A kohl-black comedy about keeping up appearances, “Physical,” which begins in 1981, tracks Sheila’s discovery of aerobics. The exercise offers her a new way to inhabit her body. (Is a way that involves leg warmers a better way? Debatable.) The series explores the continual pressure exerted on women — and the particular pressure that women exert on themselves — to achieve an impracticable ideal.
“It’s not just about body size. It’s not just the pressure to be thin,” said the creator Annie Weisman (“The Path”). “It’s telling the truth about what it takes to maintain a certain look and body, and that’s something I’m really interested in.””By Alexis Soloski, Rose Byrne and Annie Weisman Get Into ‘Physical’
The time period landscape is able to take these issues to a place where we don’t have to hate our culture for it … literally nothing has changed though. There are people out there trying to dismantle the toxic health and wellness misogyny, but overall, the messaging I received from this era in my childhood lives ever present in me. Her self-talk reflects mine exactly.
Rose Byrne is very very thin. It is difficult to overlook this, that’s part of her character presenting her body dysmorphia. Genetically, she is naturally the frame of the person we want in this role. But this actress has proven herself over and over again to be a brilliant ‘every woman’ in one of the most beautiful vessels I have ever seen on screen. She’s funny, genuine, and yet this role brings out her biting self-hating painful torturous side. I love it. She charismatically takes us on this truly hateful journey with grace and makes it actually easier to watch. For the people my age that fell in love with Jennifer Connelly in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, this is what Rose Byrne brings to PHYSICAL. Tragic Yet Magic.
My favorite Rose Byrne roles are literally anything I’ve seen her in: Troy (2004), Sunshine (2007), Bridesmaids (2011), X-Men: First Class (2011), The Internship (2013), Neighbors (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), Peter Rabbit (2018), Like a Boss (2020), Mrs. America (2020). I’m sure other fans will notice that I missed the Insidious film as I haven’t seen them. The adaptability she brings is evident. But she still possesses an elegance, which is why her comedy is so surprising. She is riveting and horrifying. She cares nothing for likability. She’s a treasure and deserves her own show.
Bryne’s character’s disordered eating and self talk seem too much or even over the top from someone who does not suffer from this condition. But I can attest that it is not purely fiction. Her character suffers from something sadly more common than it should be.
“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders didn’t add eating disorders until 1980. In 1981, how do you think Sheila understands her eating disorder?
BYRNE” Back in 1980, there was not really anywhere to go to talk about it. There wasn’t a safe space. Now there’s obviously a language around it. There’s a dialogue around it. There’s so much more acknowledgment of it, whereas back then you didn’t have that.
WEISMAN” She is just inside this compulsion. She knows that she needs to do it. And like many addicts, she is convinced every time she does it that it’s the last time. She will never do it again. So there’s no problem. There’s just a bad day. And tomorrow, it’ll be better.”By Alexis Soloski, Rose Byrne and Annie Weisman Get Into ‘Physical’
It is worth noting in this piece that this show is not really *about* body messaging. It is a show that covers political action, community engagement, classism, and misogyny – and how body-focused culture distracts from these ultimately more important issues. Yet, we wrapped it in toxic body candy, music, and outfits. Check it out and see why:
Hey, if this is an exciting show for you in ways that may be damaging, take care of yourself and check in with a mental health professional. See https://anad.org