‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ Review: Jesse Eisenberg and Lizzy Caplan Bring the Bestseller to Life

Hulu is still alive and trying to capture as much of an audience as it can. The streaming service has always been one of the most underrated in the business, and yet, it still delivers in terms of quality in ways no other streaming service does. Netflix, HBO, and even Apple TV seem to have their own flavors and styles, but Hulu has been coming up with interesting stuff every year, and most of them don’t relate to anything else. Fleishman Is in Trouble is just the latest show being offered by the struggling streaming service, but it does think incredibly well.

Fleishman Is in Trouble is a series developed by Hulu and created by Taffy Brodesser-Akner and serves as the adaptation of Taffy’s own novel of the same name. The miniseries stars Jesse Eisenberg, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Brody, and Claire Danes. The miniseries tells the story of Toby, a doctor, and father of two, who finds himself getting a divorce from his wife after 15 years of marriage. Toby discovers that life hasn’t really stopped and that he can begin again once more. However, getting through the divorce will be harder than he ever imagined.

Fleishman Is in Trouble is really a story of people who got into relationships before the emergence of dating apps. This is a story of the generation that grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, and are not parents, husbands, and wives, and have to deal with how things happen right now in the world. Meeting people face to face is a thing of the past, everything needs to go through a screen, and for a character like Toby, our main character, it is a strange and dangerous world.

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It is clear that Fleishman Is in Trouble is trying to tell a story that has been told several times from the point of view of a woman, but this time through the lens of a male character. However, things seem to be interchangeable. You can change Toby for Rachel, Toby’s wife, and put them in each other’s positions and the story would be the same. However, in a time when women can also be the providers, it seems logical that this is the new approach that needs to be taken, as the other way around has been done to death.

The series presents a very solid cast, led by the always-reliable Jesse Eisenberg. Eisenberg has become infamous for always playing these characters who find themselves in very awkward situations and don’t really know how to act in the face of issues, people, and other factors. This makes Eisenberg the perfect actor to play Toby, a character that is completely out of his depth when it comes to surviving in this new age. However, Eisenberg also makes believable the fact that his character will also be able to overcome obstacles as they appear along the way.

The rest of the cast is equally interesting. Lizzy Caplan does a great job narrating the show. She plays Libby, one of Toby’s best friends, and she is also a writer, so the entire show is basically shown as her interpretation of the events through her writing. She interjects the story with comments about her own life, but she always remains in line, telling Toby’s tale. The fact that a woman is telling the story of a man who is going through what normally goes through with women in stories is not very subtle at all, but it works.

Outside of her role as the narrator and these small interjections, she and the rest of the cast have very small roles in comparison with Eisenberg. Even Danes, who plays Rachel, appears very little, and mostly in flashbacks as we get an account of how their marriage ended up just being destroyed. It is interesting, but staying always with Toby as the main point of view really puts into perspective everything that is going on with him and how his journey will not be easy.

Visually, the series has a number of great directors that are all part of the indie film industry scene, and the way the miniseries is shot reflects this style perfectly. With New York City as the background for the story, the series ends up having that feeling from the all classics that only a city like New York can offer. The setting might be conventional, but the directing becomes very efficient, and at points, it goes into the very intricate in order to display Toby’s mental state. It is all very entertaining to watch, even when the subject is so serious.

In the end, Fleishman Is in Trouble is very much worth the watch. The writing is clever and sharp, the acting is very solid, and the story itself really reflects the way an entire generation is feeling right now. The themes that the miniseries tackles are all very universal, and if you’re in your late 30s or early 40s, this show might resonate with you in ways you don’t even imagine. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but the execution is excellent.

SCORE: 8/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.