So much to unpack about “Fleishman is in Trouble” this week. Another powerful hour. Let’s not waste any time.
We catch up with Toby as his loneliness in his empty apartment forces him to go “full bachelor”. This leads him on the “Bachelor’s Odyssey”, a voyage I’ve been on many times as a lifetime single. We see Fleishman and Seth (who has a solid movie idea btw) embark on a night of golf simulatiors, a sensory intense meals, a Britney Spears vs. Justin Timberlake dance off, and finally Super Model Fight Club. But when the night is finished Toby discovers that he’s still alone.
Lizzy Caplan’s potent narration hits home as he’s on the ferry watching the sunrise. “He couldn’t even hold on to it. Because you hold on to it by sharing it”. Which is true. And Seth later underlines that the shallow ceremonies often don’t mean that much after the sun comes up. That’s also true.
The episode then focuses on Libby and her career at a guy’s magazine where she’s constantly outshined by Archer Sylvan (FX and their Archers) played by legendary Christian Slater, portraying a bro-tastic senior writer who treats women like daft inferiors. That was a well acted scene with Jake Tapper, and I felt awful for Libby when he brushed her off in the autograph line. She spaces out and goes on this vacation at a theme park for a company she’s not allowed to mention in Florida (Disney, and were those ears in the backseat?) before she too hits a brick wall. Libby is also in trouble.
Toby then gets called to Hannah and Solly’s summer camp, and I wanted him to leave the dial on “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten for a “Jerry Maguire” moment (more on that in a second) but he changes the station. When he gets to camp he finds out that his young daughter took a suggestive photo on the phone he bought her and sent it to a boy, who shared it with the entire camp. She has to go home. The boy gets to stay because his parents are in Switzerland.
I wanted to throw my TV out of the window.
But then Toby, this brilliant doctor but spine impaired husband and father, takes a stand and says “I hope I’m there when you realize how worthless you are” to the kid who ruined his daughter’s summer and “It’s Dr. Fleishman dip$&#@” to the camp staff who wanted the whole thing swept under the rug.
I started slow clapping in front of my TV. It didn’t last long though as Toby had to tell his kids that the three were on his own, with Rachel bailing on the family.
And in an act that I can only assume was risk taking telepathy, the kids start singing “Fight Song” on the way back to the city in a sign of their resiliency (I guess kids really are resilient), and where they meet the male dog “Bubbles” (everybody thinks hes female because his name is Bubbles) and they have a nice dinner.
They head to the Vantablack exhibit in the museum and the three walk into the literal void before Solly runs out. Proof that there is still a lot of healing needed here.
Toby passes on a confrontation with Rachel, and comes to the understanding that a fight won’t fix where everyone’s life is right now.
Another superb hour of television.
No Claire Danes this week. I missed her, but I understand that you can’t make Rachel too common or she’ll eventually get boring, and that would be a crime.
But the fact that this show can still fly without Danes, and not just fly but soar, is a testament to all of the awesome work being done here. Wow. I’m both excited and nervous for the next outing.
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