PHYSICAL S3 Review: Healing Takes Time

Rose Byrne stars with Zooey Deschanel in the comedy series that gets very dark. Created by Annie Weisman, its third season debuts globally today on Apple TV+.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
PHYSICAL S3 Review: Healing Takes Time

Exercise for the mind, body, and soul.

The first two seasons are now streaming on Apple TV+ . The first two episodes of the 10-episode Season 3 debut today, followed by one new episode weekly, every Wednesday through September 27. I've seen every episode.

In sunny San Diego, California, during the early 1980s, healing takes time, as Sheila Rubin (Rose Byrne) is acutely aware.

In the first two seasons of the series, she broke free of her stifling marriage to Danny Rubin (Rory Scovel), which she precipitated in part by engaging in an unsatisfying adulterous affair with John Breem (Paul Sparks), an avowedly devout Morman who is more devoted to his highly-successful business as a real-estate developer than to his religion, his marriage, his offspring, or Sheila.

Desperate to build her own life, independent of others, Sheila stole ideas from others and built a fitness business with the help of her best friend, Greta (Dierdre Friel). All the while, Sheila has struggled with her own personal demons, especially bulimia, which have robbed her of self-worth and any value in her own accomplishments.

As the second season concluded, she appeared to be making strides in reaching her goals. Contrary to popular belief, success is never an overnight thing; it's built on years of hard work, outright failures, and the help of selfless, often unacknowledged, friends.

Sheila's biggest obstacle this season appears to be Kelly Kilmartin (Deschanel), who is far ahead of Sheila as an emerging fitness celebrity. Kelly commands her attention in real life, on videos and on television, and begins appearing to her in daytime nightmares, another figure who looks and acts real, but is only a figment of Sheila's tortured self-doubts.

Created by Annie Weisman, the series perks slowly and deliberately though its first five episodes, re-establishing the dynamics of the characters along with a few gentle twists, which likely makes it easier for newcomers to jump on board with the new season. (If you're curious about the previous seasons, check out my review of season 1 and also season 2, which I concluded by stating: "It's worth the investment of time over the season for what it reveals about Sheila and the great challenges of living in that period of time in that place in a male-dominated culture that has been, and is still, extremely slow to change.")

The show gets better as it explores Sheila, and the people around her, to a more intimate degree. Later episodes pick up the pace somewhat, as Sheila's life becomes more chaotic, even frenzied, to the point that her ultimate happiness comes into question.

Healing takes time, as does Physical. It's a good, absorbing journey, and gives viewers time to enjoy ten more hours of Rose Byrne and the writers unpeeling unexpected layers of a character who still has miles to go before she rests.


  • Annie Weisman
  • Rose Byrne
  • Rory Scovel
  • Dierdre Friel
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Annie WeismanApple TV+Deidre FrielPaul SparksRory ScovelRose ByrneZooey DeschanelDierdre FrielComedyDrama

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