Programming Review: 'Physical' Works Out for Apple TV Plus

Rose Byrne in 'Physical'
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

 Apple TV Plus taps the world of 1980’s aerobics and female entrepreneurship in its new original dramedy series Physical.

From creator Annie Weisman, the series focuses on devoted housewife and mother Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne), who is bored with her life as well as her physical appearance. Throughout the series we get a glimpse of the internal battle Sheila is going through, with her blunt inner voice often making fun of herself and others -- a favorite target is overweight friend Greta (Dierde Friel) -- and successfully egging her on to indulge in obscene eating binges that can include three cheeseburgers and fries, a piece of donut, or in one scene, a whole sheet cake. 

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Rubin seems to hit rock bottom when she stalks a young, shapely aerobics instructor named Bunny (Della Saba). Rubin follows Bunny into her exercise class and instantly gets hooked on the fast-paced aerobics routines. Looking to get out from under the shadow of her politically aspirant husband Danny (Rory Scovel), Shelia eventually connives her way into the world of aerobics, melding the exercise format with the emerging videotape business to transform herself into a female lifestyle guru.  

Weisman effectively captures the 80s era through the use of music, wardrobes and puffed up hairstyles, but it's Byrne that shines as the protagonist that transitions from a self-depreciating enabler to a confident, self-starter who gains the power and prestige that she always wanted but constantly sits on the verge of losing herself in the process. 

Physical also stars Lou Taylor Pucci, Paul Sparks and Ashley Liao.

Apple TV Plus will stream the first three episodes of the series June 18, with the remaining episodes airing weekly.

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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.