They’re drinking beers on the beach as Jerry ruminates about how “in the old days, there was no separation between work, play, drugs, and sex. It honestly makes me smile and makes me excited to see where she’s going to go and how much she’s gonna leave Danny in the dust when she goes there. Her reverie is interrupted by Danny crying out, “Fuck!” He’s trying to hit up an old Berkeley buddy for a campaign donation and can’t muster the gumption to see it through. Most interesting from a storytelling perspective, Sheila’s negative self-talk has been entirely internal, but Greta speaks hers out loud. The next morning, there’s more of the same, with the men absentmindedly burning things in the kitchen (the smoke alarm waking up Sheila from another aerobics dream) and Jerry talking in hippie platitudes, like how there’s “geezers, wheezers, and teasers” to schmooze on the campaign trail. She’s got a better idea: “Fuck the campaign video. Ask for the money!” Sheila’s come a long way, baby.) Danny excuses his little failure by claiming he was still exhausted from what happened at the end of the last episode when Sheila snuck out of the house at dawn and he was left to parent their early-waking child by himself (the horror!). After Greta leaves the room, Sheila steals her husband’s AV equipment. I’ll see you next week. However, just when it seems as if Danny’s about to be dumped in epic fashion, he tells Sheila she’s “the fucking sun to me” and genuinely surprises her by offering to clean up from the party all by himself. “Today will be different/better” is the way she used to talk about herself. Ernie sucks, John Breem (who’s also there, of course) is EVIL, and Greta is in the very unfortunate circumstance of also being surrounded by jerks and deals with that by coming off as a Debbie Downer. And now that I think about it, episode one (I believe) found Sheila ragging on herself in her head for her subpar cooking. Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” plays (love it), and Sheila makes a healthier choice. Speaking of finding your rhythm, episode four begins the same way episode three did: with Sheila thriving to the beat in her head, dreaming of aerobics class with a contented, faraway look on her face while whisking … is that hollandaise sauce? Come through, Sheila! With Jerry, natch, and actually not far away. We find out how Sheila lied her way out of that one by claiming she needed to hit up a 24-hour pharmacy, but as she’s getting irked by Danny’s self-serving behavior (him: “You could’ve left a note.” Her, internally: “You could be less of a whiny little bitch”), she makes up another excuse to get the hell out of there and goes to Greta’s manse for their one-on-one appointment. After a bit of a slow, plodding start, Physical has found its rhythm, zipping along on a crest of energetic self-empowerment as Rose Byrne’s anti-heroine comes into her own and becomes more and more of a true heroine along the way (with still a little bit of a stealing habit). Email

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When she gets to Greta’s house, all perky in her aerobics getup (belted leotards, I die!), we see Greta trudging out to greet Sheila in her frumpy pajamas. (I don’t know if I 100 percent agree, and I would maybe think that’s where the story is headed except I don’t think politics can ever pull her away from aerobics.) He says he’ll match whatever donations she brings in on the absent Danny’s behalf. Sheila’s putting the on in confidence these days. (SHE’S NOT JOKING. She reveals that she too recently got up at the crack of dawn, except instead of working out, she made and ate an entire batch of oatmeal cookies. The next morning, as Sheila does her usual lying awake in bed, she tells herself, “Today will be different. She can ask him what was up with that when they absolutely go to bed together sometime in the next five or six episodes. Then Simone shows up out of nowhere (because, of course), and next thing we know, Danny’s gone on a rogue bender like when Billy Crudup went to that teenage house party in Almost Famous. Sheila notes how weird that was. These days, it’s all rules, expectations … I hate to admit it, but I think it’s all over.” TED Talk idea: How all the hippie dudes who would have proudly labeled themselves as “woke” 40 years ago actually upheld the patriarchy as much as any Reaganite and, if still alive today, would have been rightly #MeToo’d straight into the sun. Sheila’s got one more run-in to endure at the party: Ernie again. She goes to see Bunny’s boyfriend, Tyler, the one who’s still hoping Sheila makes good on her empty promise to let him film a campaign ad for Danny. THEY’RE DEFINITELY GONNA SEE EACH OTHER NAKED.) Then Breem seems weirdly freaked out by the tide or all the grunion (a grunion is a fish, I’ve learned!) and leaves abruptly. Because I am impressed with Sheila’s culinary prowess. When Sheila tells them about the party Ernie invited them to, Jerry responds, “Does this Dinah Shore joint even let Jews in?” I don’t know what’s funnier: that line or Sheila’s feeble retort, “As of seven years ago, yes.”

Sheila heads to Ernie’s club, and I must acknowledge that this poor woman really is surrounded by the worst people. “Skinny dip in the moonlight, then?” Sheila jokes. Physical
Let’s Get This Party Started

Season 1

Episode 4

Editor’s Rating

5 stars

*****

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Photo: Apple TV+

If I were Sheila’s shrink, what I would tell her after today’s session — erm, episode — is: Well, that’s all the time we have right now, but you’ve made excellent progress today. While Danny’s getting high with Simone on one stretch of beach, Sheila’s likewise consorting along the shoreline with her future sex partner (I mean, right?), who is none other than EVIL John Breem. So where is Danny? (“Fuck it, you’re not leaving here empty-handed,” she tells herself.) We know what she’s thinking: Ernie’s expensive home-viewing playthings are exactly what she needs to make a high-production-quality aerobics video. Today will be better. And I would be so looking forward to it! Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The last straw instead is when he demands she make him a fresh pot of coffee. But nobody out-scantily-clads Danny, who is back on his side-butt-showing game by wearing nothing but a poncho (a very, very sublime costuming choice). And it hit me that Greta is Opposite Sheila. I’m ready to make a fortune.”

Sheila, I believe this is what we pretend psychologists call a breakthrough. He tells her she can “charm the uncharmable” and hints that maybe she should be the one running. Because later on, she mentions making Danny eggs Benedict. Oof. To me, she’s not just stopping and literally reflecting on what she’s doing; she’s also getting a look at what her future could be with her literally on the TV. (She muses aloud to Sheila that Ernie’s mistress is probably also at the party; can you imagine actually saying that out loud to an acquaintance??) And Sheila is steamed because the most worst person in her life (Danny) isn’t there with her. She hits a snag when Ernie almost catches her red-handed at her car, but like all the husbands on Physical, he’s too enraptured by his own persona to really see beyond it. Tags: Did all ’80s housewives know how to easily whip up a plate of eggs Benny? (Hey, at least he’s got a great ass, as Sheila noticed at the mall earlier.) “Going for a swim?” Sheila asks him. “I didn’t bring my suit,” he responds. Here we see a woman on the edge throwing daggers at everyone from Maya’s babysitter (I loved the way she paid and destroyed the sitter all in one gesture/glance) to scantily clad Simone. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! Sheila heads home and is greeted by a dead ringer for an ’80s-era Tommy Chong who calls her “Tequila Sheila.” This, we learn, is Jerry Goldman, another old Berkeley friend and, apparently, Danny’s new campaign manager. (In her head, Sheila urges him, “Ask! Sheila wakes up early now to exercise; Greta instead eats cookies and always finds a reason not to work out, even as she can agree that doing so would probably benefit her. Sheila storms out (misogynist Jerry suggests, “Maybe she’s on the rag”), and we see a quick, almost brusque montage as she re-enacts her old bingeing routine — the three bags of fast food, the motel, taking her clothes off — until she catches a glimpse of her own reflection in the screen of the motel room’s TV. (I thought that moment would play into a bigger story line toward the end of this episode, but she just offhandedly mentions later that she brought in $2,000. She’s what Sheila would be — and to a large degree, what Sheila was — before she found her higher calling/raison d’être/whatever you want to call it in aerobics. He’s played by Geoffrey Arend, whom you likely know from (500) Days of Summer or Madam Secretary, and can I just say I LOVE HIM. Today he will speak out and be heard.”

Self-talk twist! This time, he’s more focused on her than on himself. No bigs!)

The episode culminates back at the Rubin residence in a huge and hilarious way when Sheila walks in on the impromptu party taking place. So instead, he just tells her about a party she and Danny should attend at his private club to glad-hand and rake in some campaign donations. Sheila’s self-talk is fast on its way to doing a total 180 from where we started, and although her interior monologue can still be snarky, it feels like it’s directed more toward others than herself, no? As Sheila gets out of bed, I’m bracing myself to see that he hasn’t picked up a thing, but it seems he has. I am going to love hating this dude, who is a worst-instinct embodiment of Danny, kind of as Greta is to Sheila. Arend instantly starts chewing up the scenery in hilarious fashion, saying ridiculous shit like telling Sheila her hair smells “like lady parts and pineapple.” Later on, he’ll declare that “the hair of a pussy can pull a freight train,” and I just want to say that whoever wrote that line deserves to take the rest of the day off.