Physical returns to Apple TV+ on June 3 for its second season. Created, written and executive produced by Annie Weisman, who also serves as showrunner, Physical follows a housewife as she starts a fitness video business in 1980s San Diego.
The show stars Rose Byrne, Rory Scovel and Dierdre Friel. Season two also introduces Murray Barlett. The first season follows Byrne’s Sheila as she struggles with disordered eating, regrets and a tormented inner monologue before discovering a passion for aerobics.
Season two sees Shelia’s world open up as she delves deeper into the fitness industry. “Getting an opportunity to jump in again with season two was exciting because we spent so much of season one tracking all of her internal struggles,” explains Weisman. “It was finally a chance to see her get a little bit of success and then start to take on these outer demons and go after the bigger obstacles in her path toward becoming a female entrepreneur. I’m really happy with how we were able to authentically depict her struggles but it was time to see her start to take on the world.”
The show has always walked the line between drama and comedy and it hasn’t been afraid to cover serious issues. “It’s always been my style as a writer to approach serious topics with a comedic style and comedic topics with a serious style,” Weisman says. “I think comedy’s a great vehicle for tough issues and I love the way comedy opens doors, turns heads and gets people into the conversation.”
Byrne also gravitated to this type of storytelling. “This is the [type of] material I’m drawn to the most, whether as a viewer or as a performer.” Byrne says, “When I first read the scripts back in 2019, I felt that fine line of that balance… I’ve never seen a story like this be told about a woman suffering this illness in such an intimate way and in a humorous way. This season really opens up a lot more of the other worlds of the show. In a way, it is a bit lighter at times.”
Weisman felt Byrne’s gravitation to the character right away. “From the very first script [Byrne] connected with this character. I’ve gotten to know her many strengths better and I get the opportunity to write towards them even more and continue to challenge her [this season] because she has so much to offer in terms of range,” Weisman says. “She’s a phenomenal dramatic actress. She’s hilariously funny… She’s a terrific woman to spend a lot of time with and a leader on set with the other cast as well.”
It’s something other cast members have also echoed. “My favorite thing about this show continues to be truly working with Rose,” explains Friel. Friel’s character of Greta gets further explored in season 2. “Whenever you do a new show, you have to spend a lot of time setting characters up, introducing the information, setting up the world for the viewer. And that takes up to three episodes to really give enough space for that.” Friel continues, “So now in season two, we have more room to see the characters grow and to see the relationships interact with each other. It was nice to leave things a little room to breathe in that way. To have that luxury.”
Few shows feature female anti-heroes and Physical handles this carefully. “Sheila is tricky, obviously she’s an antihero, but you still want to root for her,” Byrne says. “I think talking about women, female empowerment, finding your own agency, finding your own space in the world, what you wanna do and how you do it is a cool message about our show. I am proud of that.”
Weissman is careful in her crafting of the show and the character of Shelia. “Nothing’s as challenging as putting something out in the world for the first time, especially something really personal.” Weisman continues, “I heard a lot from the eating disorder recovery community about how [the show] was beneficial to people. So coming into it, there was just a lot of confidence that we were on the right track in terms of telling the truth in a way that felt difficult to do at first before I had that experience.”
Physical season 2 premieres on June 3 on Apple TV+ followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.