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‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ team on telling a story about men and modern marriage through women

[This story contains spoilers from the FX limited series Fleishman Is in Trouble.]

In the limited series of FX Fleishman is in troubleauthor and showrunner Taffy Brodesser-Akner wants you to think about whose side you’ve been on.

Described by Brodesser-Akner as an “absurd comedy” mixed with marital drama and based on her debut novel of the same name, the series follows doctor Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) after he and his wife Rachel (Claire Danes) get divorced and share custody of their take on children. Fleishman, a free (middle-aged) man, is trying to re-enter the dating scene through dating apps while juggling his work and now-single parent-type duties.

“It’s a modern story about what marriage is like now. It’s not about a long-term marriage,” Brodesser-Akner explained at the show’s New York premiere earlier this month. “It’s about the way things are weird now between men and women in heterosexual marriages with women outnumbering men and the tension those things create.”

The ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ team at the New York premiere earlier this month

Noam Galai/Getty Images

“There are essentially three marriage stories, all interesting and all representing slightly different aspects of a possible marriage,” added star Adam Brody, who says his character Seth, Toby’s boyfriend, represents “the hedonistic side of the male perspective” . “It takes a long look – a gloomy and contemplative, but also wistful and romantic side by side with a gloomy look – at the new middle age in today’s world. And I think there’s a lot of universality across all relationships, even though it’s clearly about a specific group of people with a certain income, in a specific zip code.”

Though lonely, Toby seems to be doing well, until one day Rachel drops the kids off at his house – and then disappears and cuts off contact with her former husband. Spanning several decades, including the more recent year 2016, part of the series’ twist, the showrunner and her cast told The Hollywood Reporteris when and how Rachel comes back.

Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg attends the New York premiere of FX’s ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

“[Fleishman Is in Trouble] shows this fraught marriage from both sides. You see the world from my eyes and my wife looks like the villain,” star Eisenberg added. “Then you flip the script and see it from her eyes and realize I’ve been the bad guy too. My character seems like a betrayed, aggrieved, rejected husband, and I think Taffy turns that expectation upside down a bit by showing the same story from the woman’s point of view and seeing that the male sympathy you had as a viewer might actually was misplaced.”

That twist is something that star Danes said was both the “big thrill of the novel” and also scary to take on as a performer, especially in light of how the limited series — at least initially — frames her character. .

“It surprises you so much because it’s happening so late on the continuum, so you’re just kind of blindsided and then you’re shocked to find out that you’ve been a little bit complicit in this very biased telling of the story, which you’re here on the somehow misled by or that you did this on purpose,” she said. “It’s a little scary playing someone who isn’t portrayed in the most flattering light, but I trusted the structure that Taffy had created, and the reward at the end should hopefully be exciting and satisfying.”

Claire Danes

Claire Danes attends the New York premiere of FX’s ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

“I’ve played a lot of characters who are pretty despicable people and that’s not the case with this show. This character is not a monster. He’s just a man,” Eisenberg said of his own character. “But I found myself trying to figure out how to rationalize and empathize with people who, to a reasonable viewer, act horribly. And I think in a very subtle way, this challenges viewers to think about the way we expect sympathy for the guy by default.

As Brody pointed out, there are other players (and marriages) in the story, which also explores the realities of modern heterosexual marriage. Those other players include Lizzy Caplan’s character, Libby Epstein, a writer – and the narrator of the story – who is stuck in suburban life while married to Adam Epstein, played by Josh Radnor.

The latter teases that their relationship is more of a “slow boiling point”, and then things get a little hot and hot and hot and there’s a big blast between the two of them in the final episode. And somewhat unlike the show’s leading relationship between Eisenberg and Danes’ characters, Caplan’s character serves as the guiding lens for both her and Radnor’s characters’ relationship and, ultimately, the entire audience.

Lizzy Kaplan

Lizzy Caplan attends the New York premiere of FX’s ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

“My character Libby says she feels like she can’t read anything she’s written unless it’s written about a man. That she can’t tell her own story. The only way she can get an audience is if she talks about a man, which is basically the whole show,” Caplan shared. THR. “You think the show is about Fleishman, but it’s Libby telling her story through her friend. She later comes to that realization and the audience joins her for the ride.

Radnor said his character acts “in support of Lizzie’s story and her perspective and her story” — a pivot he likes to make in a culture dominated by male stories and stories told through a specific lens in a specific way.

“I’ve definitely been the centerpiece and the story has asked women to come together around my story as a protagonist, so I’m happy to give back,” the actor said with a laugh. “There’s such a strong perspective – even the men were beautifully written in this. That’s something I wish more male actors understood. Women have written great roles for you.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Taffy Brodesser-Akner attends the premiere of FX’s ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ in New York.

Noam Galai/Getty Images

Brodesser-Akner, who spent years between places like GK Magazines The New York Times profiling men, said writing for men became a place where she felt more comfortable. “But it’s also a numbers game,” she added. “We live in a terrible culture where everyone reads a story about a man, but only women read a story about women. A man will historically be interested only in male stories, and a woman in both.”

Fleishman is in trouble then serves as an opportunity to unpack that for TV, as the novel did for publication and her profiles did for journalism. “I like the idea of ​​subverting it and saying this is a story about a man and what if it were told by a woman? What if it was told by someone who grew frustrated with the story as she listened to it because it stopped making sense to her? It didn’t sound exactly accurate anymore? she says. “That’s definitely what I was hoping to do when I was telling stories about men GK and then at The New York Times.”

Fleishman is in trouble releases new episodes on Hulu on Thursday.

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