‘I want to live in the future but I keep talking about the past,’ So says Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg), a middle-aged Jewish Manhattan doctor who turns out to be in rather more trouble than he initially imagines. Fleishman and his ex-wife Rachel (Claire Danes) are in the later stages of finalising their divorce, and as we join his narrative, he’s looking forward to getting out there and playing the field with the ‘cyber-sluts’ of the NYC app scene. Although Fleishman does get some satisfaction, the disappearance of his partner leaves him with all kinds of parenting issues for their two kids. The big question is; where is Toby Fleishman’s wife and what exactly has happened to her?
Adapted by Taffy Brodesser-Akner from her own novel, Fleishman is in Trouble is an ingenious modern reworking of some traditional tropes; we’ve certainly been here before in terms of sex-obsessed New York doctors, but this FX on Hulu project, shown on Disney+ elsewhere, is far more attuned to the present than the future. Fleishman and his wife have a favourite author, Archer Sylvan (Christian Slater) who is fashionably unfashionable and feels like a John Updike/Phillip Roth substitute, but this show is literate rather than of a specific literary bent. Over eight episodes, we build up a picture of Fleishman’s anxieties and issues, before a revelatory sequence shows up what’s actually been happening with Rachel, events that don’t exactly show Toby Fleishman in such a sympathetic light, and which he wrestles with forming a response to.
“The only way to get someone to listen to a woman [is] to tell her story through a man” is a quote from the original text that resonates here; arguably the key character is not Toby or Rachel, but Toby’s scatty best friend Libby, played by Lizzy Caplan in an empathetic, acerbic turn that bodes well for playing the coveted Glenn Close role in the Fatal Attraction reboot. Libby is there to help Toby, but finding out the truth about Rachel changes her opinions, and her life. Adam Brody also scores as Toby’s best friend, who is a conduit to a bad-boy lifestyle, but Fleishman is in Trouble rarely feels like a civics lecture. Whether we sympathise or not with Rachel’s withdrawal from her own life and family, such a conscious uncoupling or retraction is on brand for modern life, and unlike say, Marriage Story, we don’t have to pick one side to cheerlead for. Danes manages quite a transformation in some very powerful scenes, but Eisenberg is also impressive in his awkwardness as he captures the nuances of Fleishman’s fall from grace. Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the team behind Little Miss Sunshine, bring a welcome lack of sentiment to the unfolding spectacle.
Disgnosing problems with failing men is very much where we are right now; Fleishman’s job as a doctor used to mean money and respect, but Fleishman is in Trouble upends that tradition; $300,000 a year gets you and your family nowhere these days in the black money economy, and neither does being a humble hepatologist. The most tender scenes here show Fleishman with his kids, with a symbolic group trip to stare into a Vantablack void in an art gallery working as a shorthand for what’s at stake. The merits of the source material have been debated elsewhere, but as a tv show, Fleishman is in Trouble works as a clinical dissection of the messy morals of the modern male, and the women who pick up the tab for his indulgence.
Thought you were contracted for 200?
Not a chance.
Today feels like a 100 comment day. Thank goodness we did all the heavy lifting yesterday.
What fun, I can see the trailer for free but have to stump up for yet another streamer for yet another series about dysfunctioning men – are there any functioning men left?
I’m the only truly functioning man around here…
Some of us may beg to differ.
I like Claire Danes. But I’ve really been raising the bar for TV series lately. I have to really, really, really want to watch it, and this just doesn’t get me going. I’ve spent too much time in the covid years finishing out the run of shows that quicklyl turned mediocre and wasted time that could be spend on films.
Also, hadn’t heard they are doing a Fatal Attraction remake. Now that has my attention…….
Check out the trailer, Lizzy Caplan rocks. And Fleishman is an excellent show…
SpongeBob would like to disagree w your statement.
You didn’t like it?
Haven’t seen it. But ol’ Spongearoo hasn’t led me wrong yet.
I have a tattoo of WWSBD, that’s how serious I take it.
I saw the Spungebob movie, he’s a cartoon who lives in Bikini Bottom with his friends Patrick and Squidward. That’s all I got. David Hasselhoff was in it…
You need to watch the TV show. Do you some good.
Anything in it that should apply to me other than what I detailed above?
You still owe me $300,000.
And this is how I’m going to collect…
By making me watch cartoons?
The light dawns.
How long will it take to generate that kind of sum?
That’s gonna take you All The Seasons to settle that debt…
It really won’t. I’ll give it five mins.
I like Lizzy Caplan, don’t like Eisenberg, do like Danes. I’ll yep this until proven otherwise.
Ditto on Eisenberg and Danes (don’t know Caplan). But don’t think that’s enough to tempt me here.
Eisenberg is good. Fact!
Caplin was in CLoverfield if that helps. And other stuff of course, Masters of Sex was a good series she won awards for.
She was good in Castle Rock and that Fatal Attraction trailer looks good too.
Watched a couple of the Castle Rock series but couldn’t get into it. Did Fatal Attraction really need a do-over though?
Needs updated to the era of failing men.
I always though Michael Douglas WAS a failing man, in any era.
Solved the case in Basic Instinct. Romanced the Stone.
1)He did not solve the case.
2) Poor man’s Harrison Ford.
Son of Kirk. Jewel of the Nile. Saved world in China Syndrome. Produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
OK OK fanboy!
YES is the correct answer, for any failing men who are reading this…
“Disgnosing problems with failing men is very much where we are for right now”
I feel you need to talk about this subject. Please, lie down on this nice comfy couch and tell me how it makes you feel. And how my 300,000 bill is going to make you feel.
He should run a spell-check disgnostic anyway . . .
hahahahaa. You know, I didn’t even see that and I copy/pasted it too!
The “where we are for” bit was a muff too. He was in good form this morning.
Probably all that time spent checking out snacks at the library.
Eating Wotsits? and drinking Viakal will do that to you.
Viakal sounds like something you drink if you have constipation…
I think it’s a cleaner, except in Strathclyde, where it’s a key ingredient in the bathtub gin they make.
Something has to make it taste of bathtubs!
Sigh. See below.
Lots of sighing going on today. Is the doctors couch not comfy enough?
For the last time, you inhale it, not drink it.
You know you like those snacks! Don’t try to deny it….
I’m in good form every morning, Bunty.
I don’t make these shows, I just relate what they’re saying…
So, you’re disassociating yourself from the movies and shows you watch. Hmmm, I see, I see. And how does that make you feel?
Like dropping a load of Wotsits on your condo.
Well, if they’re atomic, that should do the job!
$300,000 a year gets you and your family nowhere these days . . .
Tell me about it. Even with my seven figure I’m just keeping my head above water.
I couldn’t even begin to live on $300,000 a year, not with the high living standards that I have.
Where else could you keep your head?
B-field is a pricey location. Plus they have to pay for that new library.
I have a handsome carry-all for my noggin.
Like a bowling ball bag?
To the untrained eye.
So you walk around with your head in a bag?
One of them anyway.
One of your bags or one of your heads?
I think you just answered your own question.
Alex’s real name is zaphod beeblebrox. I thought you knew that? Or had your security clearance from the library not come through yet?
Just re-reading Hitchhikers Guide today! Zaphod was quite a guy.
You going to be reviewing it?
I’ll definitely be putting a post up on it. Haven’t read it in decades.
Maybe Eddie can contribute a picture of the book from his local library, appropriately smudged with those whotsit things that are atomic red…
I’m still thinking those are just mutant Cheetos.
I think so too. But I didn’t want to insult the Whotsit name if it was somehow sacred in Scotland.
I see I have offended.
How does that make you feel?
Like putting your head in a bowling bag.
Sorry, Alex already hogged all the bowling bags. If you have any spare space bank vaults though, I could go hide in one of them until I clear it out.
OK, you hide in one, I’ll let you know when its safe to come out…
I think you are a mutant Cheerio.
Sigh. There WAS a book in my pic!
Those papers were emergency toilet paper I thought….
EL James, so you are partly correct
You just said you’d been re-reading it!
Not yet, no, but I can see Alex as Zaphod.
Well, buy yourself some viakal and get that security clearance! Stat!!!!!
Uh oh, I see we’re going to have to go to the next level of doctoring. That means my fees go up to 600,000 now.
How does that make you feel?
Like dropkicking you over the football posts…
Ahhh, your european insecurities are showing. Does America’s use of the term football for football and soccer for soccer make you feel small and insignificant?
Don’t worry! We can solve that.
Just drink 3 bottles of viakal and stay by the water closet for when it kicks in and you’ll be all set. You’ll feel like a new man in no time.
Sigh. You know nowt about football.
Now Eddie, claiming I am a newt isn’t going to help you get better.
Remember buddy, this is all about you n your problems. We’re just here to help you…
You are a newt and everyone knows it. Your pronouns are ‘newt.’
I see this is going to take a couple of sessions.
How does that make you feel?
No time for your psychobabble!
Oh, we’ve got plenty of time. As long as your checks don’t bounce…
Will take more than this to get me to 100 comments today…
I’m not feeling that today is a 100 comment day.
Those days have a ‘vibe’ and it’s not present today.
Really? Why not?
I’m working instead of depositing your 300000 check.
Just cash, no dye packs, no consecutive numbers please…
so close on 77