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Fleishman is in Trouble

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What it’s about:

An eight-episode light drama about the breakdown of the marriage between New York City hepatologist Dr. Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) and his mega successful, ladder-climbing talent agent wife Rachel (Claire Danes), who disappears one day after they split, leaving Toby to wrestle with the arc of their relationship and its aftermath with the help of his college friends Libby and Seth.

Names you might know:

Libby and Seth are played by scene stealers Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex) and Adam Brody (The O.C.), while How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor portrays Libby’s husband, Adam. There’s a delightful, name-you-will-definitely-know surprise – no spoiler – in the actor who plays Libby’s magazine writer hero, and the series is an adaptation of celebrity profiler Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s 2019 bestselling novel of the same name.

Why it’s worth your time:

Even if you’re not a Real Housewives watcher, chances are you’ve heard something about their real personal lives, or the real personal lives of other reality television stars. Often, their time on those TV shows spells doom for their real-world relationships, and that’s often because people watching them notice and comment on them. Once others point problems out to them, they begin to take note of issues in their lives themselves, and even act on them in a way that leads to the aforementioned doom.

That’s a long-winded way to sum up the very real-world appeal of Fleishman Is in Trouble, a fine, well-acted drama in which the once very much in love Rachel and Toby Fleishman, Upper East Side New Yorkers with thriving careers and two children, find their happiness chipped away by problems that can be somewhat boiled down to a lack of communication, and even more so by a lack of understanding and empathy for each other.

It’s these prescriptive elements of the story of Rachel and Toby’s divorce (and the roles their friends play in it) that make this more than just an entertaining drama, though it is certainly that. Despite some truly harsh and specific confrontations and recriminations between the Fleishmans, there’s also humor, especially in Toby and Rachel’s early getting-to-know-you days, when Toby re-enters the dating world (oh, the apps!), and when he renews his college friendships with Libby and Seth after his break-up. The focus of most the action on a relatively small cast, in fact, gives the series an almost play-like feel, and a chance to dive deep into the characters and their motivations, and again, maybe your own along the way. A well-plotted twist in the second half of the season also might force you to switch, or at least widen, your allegiances among the Fleishmans and their crew.

The takeaway:

Fleishman in Trouble is a tense marriage drama that will resonate with its honest, sometimes brutal, sometimes more quiet and subtle portrayal of the ways that a connection can break down, and how it’s important – in stories and in real-life – to recognize and acknowledge all sides of a relationship.

Watch it with:

Your friend who’s starting over after a breakup, your fellow romantic drama fan, maybe even your own romantic partner; just be warned that since it may spark feelings with or about your romantic partner, it could make for some uncomfortable moments on the ol’ couch.

Worth noting:

Danes and Eisenberg had met once before playing marrieds Rachel and Toby: around 15 years ago, at a charity event, when Eisenberg was the most stoned he had ever been in his life (according to a story he relayed to the New York Times). He had a lovely conversation with Danes, and then walked up to his then-girlfriend (now wife) and told her that he had just met his soulmate. Danes said she hadn’t remembered the exchange, but their Fleishman working experience turned out to be much more memorable.

Where to find itHulu

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