Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne headlines a dark new comic tale on Apple TV+

Sheila Rubin is a woman with problems.

PhysicalApple TV+As played by Rose Byrne (late of FX miniseries Mrs. America) in the half-hour Apple TV+ comedy Physical, which begins streaming Friday (with new episodes coming weekly thereafter), she’s a frustrated housewife in 1980s San Diego who gave up her grad school studies to be a dutiful wife and mother.

Her marriage, however, is no great shakes. Her husband Danny (as played by standup comic Rory Scovel) is a failed college professor and candidate for state assembly who generally pays her little mind. And this rail-thin waif has a severe self-image problem, flagellating herself for being too fat when she’s not binging and purging.

PhysicalApple TV+But this quietly tortured soul manages to find empowerment through aerobics, at first sneaking into a class, then getting hooked on the exercise and eventually turning her burgeoning passion into a successful business making aerobics videos.

And along the way, she finds her voice as a lifestyle guru and economic force.

The series was created by Annie Weisman (The Path, Suburgatory) and also stars Dierdre Friel, Della Saba, Lou Taylor Pucci and Paul Sparks.

“A lot of what we’re exploring in the show is sort of the divide between the external and the internal for so many women,” Weisman explains. “And I think one of the ways that Rose inhabits that so beautifully is that you see that—and this is true for so many women, and not just women in show business—but that no matter how polished and perfect the external gets, there’s a tremendous amount of turmoil under the surface. And there’s so many internalized feelings of self-hatred. And it’s not about what you see in the mirror, but it’s about what you’ve absorbed from the culture, from your family and from your experience.”

PhysicalApple TV+Byrne, who is also an executive producer on Physical, first met with Weisman while filming Mrs. America and was immediately taken with this intriguingly damaged character.

“It’s such a preconception of illnesses like this,” the Australian actress explains. “There is no exclusive person, there is no rule of who or who doesn’t feel like this, or has personal demons, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you’re from, or anything. So I think that’s a big part of what Sheila is dealing with and what the show deals with really beautifully.”

Physical streams Fridays on Apple TV+