A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Sheila's negative habits are always ultimately detrimental to her; vulnerable viewers may need some follow-up discussion about potentially triggering content. Physical could be a good conversation starter for families who may not know how open discussions about sensitive issues like mental illness and body image.
Positive Role Models
The struggles of those with eating disorders is presented, however, Sheila is definitely not a positive role model.
Violence & Scariness
Self-harm is a form of violence; Sheila's harmful actions toward herself -- incessant negative self-talk, extreme overeating, bulimia -- are a major plot driver.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex between consenting adults is discussed on multiple occasions. One character secretly runs a pornography film studio within the mall, but all sexual activity is kept offscreen. There is brief, nonsexual nudity.
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Characters swear, with occasional uses of "f--k".
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
During social and campaign events, adults are shown drinking alcohol. One character discusses using marijuana, and paraphernalia is shown. During one episode, a group of characters uses LSD.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Physical is a dramedy starring Rose Byrne in a darkly funny story that focuses on gender roles and Southern California politics during the Reagan presidency. Sheila is a complicated character, a stay-at-home mom whose daily schedule is dictated by her bulimia. Despite her cruel inner monologue consistently demanding that she resist the urge to visit the drive-thru and eat her food in secret, the impossible standard of perfection Sheila's mind demands frequently overwhelms her. It's never long before she's right back to sitting on the bathroom floor after purging, swearing that tomorrow she will "be better." Her life begins to dramatically shift after discovering an aerobics studio in Playa Vista's brand new shopping mall, but the harsh inner monologue continues to rule Sheila's every action. Physical's exploration of eating disorders may require some follow-up conversation for younger viewers or those with histories of body-image issues. Though Sheila suffers clearly negative consequences as a result of her disease from episode one, her disturbing inner monologue will likely be triggering for those who may struggle with similar negative thought processes. Sex between consenting adults is discussed on multiple occasions, as is pornography. There is brief, nonsexual nudity. Characters say "f--k" and other profanity; some also drink alcohol and use marijuana and LSD.
Is It Any Good?
This '80s-focused dramedy is a welcome addition to the TV's recent narratives starring suburban wives who don't fit within the typical sitcom tropes. Physical shares some themes with Kevin Can F--k Himself and American Housewife but it's set apart in the offbeat, merciless humor through which Sheila sees the world. Sheila is utterly miserable, and it's sometimes difficult to feel sorry for her, yet we still root for her to fix her own problems. Woven into her domestic melancholy is a core mystery: Why did Sheila's life divert from academic potential and political passion to simply existing in an unhappy marriage in a small coastal town? Whose idea was it to get married and have a baby? Did Sheila choose to drop out of graduate school, or did Danny pressure her into doing so? What is stopping her from going back to work, despite pleas from a former teacher to not let Danny keep her away? Is she really enduring pressure from her husband to stay at home, or is she afraid of the success that would likely await her if she finished her graduate degree?
These questions linger in the air of every scene, and no answer would be surprising. The lack of simple explanations are part of what makes Sheila a deeply captivating character. While some may not be able to see past her incredibly mean thoughts about herself and those around her, others will understand that her eating disorder shouldn't, and doesn't, define her. Still, her actions are reprehensible, and being mentally ill does not absolve her from needing to be accountable for her mistakes. Though this all sounds heavy and serious, the show manages to ground itself as a comedy with subtle jokes placed at just the right moments, a testament to its ability to walk the lines of multiple genres and a wide range of moods.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.