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Fleishman is in Trouble


‘…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….’

‘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.


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  1. 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?

  2. 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…….

  3. “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.

  4. $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.

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