REVIEW: ‘Physical’ Season 2 is Perfect Rose Byrne

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Physical Season 2 - But Why Tho

Physical, an AppleTV+ Original series starring Rose Byrne was a sleeper hit for me last year. I didn’t expect to fall in love with its chaos and its vulnerability, but here I am, and Physical Season 2 is even better than the first. If you’re unfamiliar, Physical is a dark comedy starring and executive produced by Rose Byrne. The series comes from creator, writer, and executive producer , and Season 2 offers up 10-episodes of erratic and emotional storytelling. In addition to Byrne, the Physical Season 2’s ensemble cast is led by returning stars Rory Scovel, Dierdre Friel, Della Saba,Lou Taylor Pucci, and Paul Sparks.

In Physical Season 2, Sheila Rubin (Byrne) has successfully launched her first fitness video only to encounter some new and bigger obstacles in her path. She is torn between loyalty to her husband (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. This season dives deeper into Sheila’s mental health and manages to also investigate the relationships around her. More importantly, though, we see her choose herself, both for good and for bad.

This season is a culmination of all of Shiela’s choices. We see Sheila reap the rewards of her business ventures we also see the toll it takes on her body. We see Sheila embracing independence and clearly building a life outside of her awful husband, but we also see how the system isn’t built to support a woman alone. Sheila’s story in Season 2 is equal parts good and bad, but all of it works to make her dynamic in a way that solidifies her as one of my favorite characters on television.

At a certain point in the season, Sheila opens up about her bulimia and she does so by understanding that they’re both a part of who she is. Sheila isn’t healthy by any standards and she isn’t a good person. But she is a woman who has lived under the contestant expectation of being perfect and giving up her wants for everyone around her. Capturing vulnerability and pain with ambition and strength is a task that Rose Byrne embraces.

Physical understands bulimia in a way I have never seen on television. This is due in large part to Shiela’s age. She isn’t a teen struggling with body image, and her bulimia isn’t reduced to beauty standards. Instead, she needs control, she wants to feel like she can steer her life where she wants and it manifests in her eating disorder. Even when she’s “better” she just pivots her focus into something else.

Bulimia is different for everyone, as are all eating disorders, but when coupled with the depiction of intrusive thoughts, Sheila is a character I see myself in deeply. I mean, even the group therapy we see in Physical Season 2 is relatable—both in its absurdity and its reality. The choice to include a diverse cast of actors in the group is also a moment to commend the series for not leaning into the stereotype that only children of rich white households have eating disorders. Recovery isn’t one moment, it’s a series of choices you make to put your health first, and sometimes we make the wrong decision, but it’s always there. That’s what this season highlights—not just in Sheila’s Bulimia but her recovery in her life.

Physical Season 2 is deep and dark when it explores Shiela’s mental health, especially in moments where the voice in her head erupts for everyone to hear. As we see more about how she became how she is, the audience gets a chance to understand why control is what Shiela is striving for. She wants it in her business, in her family, and in her body. She has her reasons for it, and yes it makes her out to be a self-centered asshole a lot of the time, but it also makes her human in a way many women will identify with.

In particular, Shiela explains at one point: “I miss being awful to myself.” And that captures Physical for me. It’s about a woman with ambition who has been stifled at every turn and who has focused on being awful to herself so that others can’t be, and in a way, punishes herself for giving up her dreams for a man too ignorant to do anything with his.

AppleTV+ has been hitting television series out of the park and Physical Season 2 is no different. While I’ve discussed the darkness and vulnerability we see in it, there is also immense humor. From physical and situational to dialogue-driven humor, the series is able to balance the utterly depressing with a tone that makes you laugh at loud. Sometimes it’s a laugh that feels great and other times it’s a laugh that makes you whisper an expletive afterward but it all works to make the series something unique and fantastic to watch.

The series itself is amazing because of its concept, its execution, and more importantly, Rose Byrnes’s ability to bring this dynamic series to life. She has a depth of vulnerability, a sharp meanness, and an eye for success that makes her wholely complete as a character. Physical Season 2 is perfect Rose Byrne, and a perfect balance of the darkness and humor that pulled me into the series initially. I wasn’t sure that the series could get better, but it did, completely.

Physical Season 2 is streaming exclusively on AppleTV+ June 3, 2022.


Physical Season 2
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

The series itself is amazing because of its concept, its execution, and more importantly, Rose Byrnes’s ability to bring this dynamic series to life. She has a depth of vulnerability, a sharp meanness, and an eye for success that makes her wholely complete as a character. Physical Season 2 is perfect Rose Byrne, and a perfect balance of the darkness and humor that pulled me into the series initially. I wasn’t sure that the series could get better, but it did, completely.