‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ Review: Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes Star in Hulu Series That’s Aging Like a Groan


If you find yourself not liking everyone in Hulu’s oh-so-adorable “Fleishman is in Trouble,” don’t worry, because it’s not clear that they like each other. Author Taffy Brodesser-Akner has adapted her book into a limited series with its literary conventions intact, but the result is a frustrating showcase for very good actors in very whiny characters, including Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan and Claire Danes .

Brodesser-Akner writes for the New York Times Magazine, which is evident in this Manhattan-centric story about the angst to do, which approximates what the Times’ Sunday Styles section would look like if it sprouted legs . While the narrative eventually gets to a semi-relatable place, egad, it’s a long, absorbing eight-episode job to get there.

The initial focus is on recently divorced Toby Fleishman (Eisenberg), whose story is told by his college friend Libby (Caplan), who serves as a relentless narrator of everyone’s innermost thoughts. Toby sublimated his career as a doctor to that of his wife, Rachel (Danes), a high-powered theatrical agent, and now lives in a modest apartment while his ex resides in “the much nicer house that was only his.”

Having felt somewhat emasculated by his wife’s success, Toby now takes solace in the wide availability of sex partners thanks to online dating in the starving confines of New York. But his large social circle brings other problems and pressures, such as his young daughter attending a private school that has made him so status-conscious that he is reluctant to get on a bus, lest he be seen by his peers. rich friends and critics.

In this world, when a character says “It’s more complicated than that,” don’t worry, everything is. However, the main wrinkle of “Fleishman is in Trouble” ends up giving Rachel and then Libby their moments in the spotlight as well, illustrating, “Rashomon”-style, that our understanding of situations are not always as black and white as first impressions may seem. . .

The series periodically flashes back to Toby and Rachel’s younger days, showing how they met and how the relationship soured. Still, there’s no escaping the “girl” quality of these characters who live inside their own heads, only in this case, during a different stage of life and higher socio-economic strata.

Ultimately, it’s an unnecessary reminder that having a lot doesn’t mean having it all, nor does it keep you from saying distressing things like “I feel like I’m not alive anymore” or “We can deal with all of this.” you later?”

The acting isn’t surprisingly bloated, though both Eisenberg and Danes feel like they’re reprising characters they’ve played before, and yes, the latter has a crying scene that will probably launch a thousand memes.

There’s obviously a rich cinematic tradition of portraying this part of Manhattan life (Woody Allen dined there for years), but the eight-episode format fosters an appreciation for the fact that films like “Manhattan” and ” Annie Hall” had a good pace of 90. – Minutes.

There is a larger truth to the underlying message of “Fleishman” that no one is perfect and everyone has problems. There’s also a big difference between understanding this and producing a show whose characters can inspire audiences to care about their own.

“Fleishman is in Trouble” premieres Nov. 17 on Hulu.

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