Taffy Brodesser-Akner is one of my favorite journalists. Her Hollywood star profiles are usually masterful. Many have gone viral, because we like nothing more than someone who really knows how to see and tell you about a character. Nothing often bothers them more than when that happens.
Brodesser-Akner's latest viral profile is of a fictional person. Toby Fleishman, the protagonist of Fleishman is in trouble, was born in a novel and now lives in a series. Brodesser-Akner signs both, showing that he also knows how to write screenplays. what a bitch
Fleishman's Toby Is in Trouble, the series, is played by Jesse Eisenberg. Choosing him as the protagonist is as risky a decision as letting a novelist turn her own book into a screenplay. But in this series both decisions are correct. With the face of the unsympathetic Eisenberg, Fleishman's proposal is in trouble gets even more sophisticated. The forty-year-old recently divorced from him is a wretch we pity and an idiot whom we too would abandon.
Taffy Brodesser-Akner's series, available in Spain on Disney, deals with divorce, but it is not Marriage Story, a film with which one would instinctively like to compare it. The premise of Fleishman is in trouble is much more concrete and at the same time tremendously conceptual: Rachel (Claire Danes), Toby's ex, leaves him with the children overnight, without giving more than basic explanations. They are also his and this time she will have to keep them a little longer than agreed. Rachel's non-explanations drag Toby out of his so-called young divorcee heaven (you know, Tinder and more Tinder) and into a pathetic spiral of jealousy, insecurity and blame. Like a crazy mix of Search Party and Lost, Fleishman's in Trouble is a story about making life difficult.
It's easy to fall into the trap of not believing that Toby and Rachel (or Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes) could ever be in love and be happy. Their chemistry in the series is very strange, their dynamics are sour and their emotional barriers are evident. And it is precisely what Fleishman is in trouble is talking about, to insist that things be as we want them to be, not as they are. It soon becomes clear to the viewer what Rachel wants and what Toby wants. What she expects from life (indeed, what she demands of him, since she has worked hard to achieve it) and what fills him are incompatible things. But they love each other and love conquers everything, you know.
Well no: love cannot do everything.
Fleishman is in trouble is not a drama. It's not a happy series either. What counts is bitter and, above all, absolutely recognizable, even being, as in Story of a marriage, the pure definition of a first world problem. This is the story of an idiot and a genius. Or that of a narcissist and a bitch. Or that of a saint and a narcissist. Or that of two very wrong people. Or all at once (everywhere).
According to the criteria of The Trust Project