“The show does a great job of shining a light on things that people do in private and don’t often talk about”: Stephanie Laing on Physical season three
Physical returns to our screens this summer for its third and final season, finding Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) once again in 1980s San Diego, this time further along the road to recovery from her battle with her inner demons and a chronic eating disorder as a bored housewife, to empowerment and success as a fitness video guru.
That road, however, is perhaps longer than she had hoped, and her progress is threatened by competition from a new rival in the form of a blonde bombshell Kelli (a brilliantly gung-ho Zooey Deschanel). Expect more eye-popping, colourful 80s sets and frighteningly high-legged aerobic wear, blacker than coal humour and a career-best central performance from Byrne: even her most subtle facial expressions are able to find both the comedic and complex emotional edges of Sheila. There are not exactly laugh-out-loud moments, but rather the accuracy with which this dramedy pinpoints the anxiety that can arise when there’s a dissonance between one’s outward image and inner self is wince-inducingly good. The way the scenes can flip from a dreamy, retro Californian aesthetic to a nightmarish horror show, are a genius way to capture the sinister undercurrent that haunts a seemingly perfect suburban lifestyle.
The Upcoming spoke to director Stephanie Laing about what fans can expect from the closing chapter of Physical, what it was like seeing Byrne put in such a nuanced and committed performance as Sheila, and the importance of delving into the taboo realm of mental illness and eating disorders, albeit through a darkly comedic lens.
Physical season three is released on 2nd August 2023.
Watch the trailer for Physical season three here: