Phoebe Robinson stars as messy podcaster in ‘Everything’s Trash’
Smart, young, single and messy. It’s a genre that spans everything from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Fleabag” to “Bridget Jones’s Diary” to “Chewing Gum” to “Broad City” to “Insecure” to the criminally underseen “Sort
Of ” and “We Are Lady Parts,” both of which were renewed for a second season earlier this year.
Joining that pantheon with well-earned confidence is “Everything’s Trash,” starring Phoebe Robinson as a Brooklyn podcaster whose foot takes up near-permanent residence in her mouth. But she has such a shrugging, good-natured attitude about it all — and she’s funny — that even when she tests the patience of those around her, no one’s holding a grudge for long.
The podcast is a framing device, much like Jerry’s stand-up on “Seinfeld,” with the bulk of each episode devoted to Phoebe-as-chaos-agent in her nonwork life. She has a boxful of bills that are past due, much to the consternation of her roommate (Moses Storm), and a bougie brother with political ambitions (Jordan Carlos) who may or may not see his campaign hampered by Phoebe’s disastrous instincts.
More than anything, we see how Phoebe’s freewheeling and self-assured persona belies more private insecurities — she’s mostly upbeat about them, but they’re there nevertheless — and it’s a cunning portrayal of an increasingly common disconnect between what people present to the world (on social media or elsewhere) and what their lives are actually like.
One episode addresses
this head-on when a digital outlet wants to feature Phoebe in a photo shoot, and she thereafter spirals, hilariously, trying to embody a luxury lifestyle that has little relation to her own reality. It’s a premise that winningly undercuts all the expectations leveled at people with public-facing careers; most don’t have access to stylists or an expensive-looking home, but the pressure is there.
The show is loosely inspired by Robinson’s essay collection “Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay,” but she may be better known from her podcast with Jessica Williams called “2 Dope Queens.” As a solo act, Robinson has more than enough charisma and the right comedy chops to carry a show (she is an executive producer here as well), and the writing is full of the kinds of jokey random detours that made me laugh.
Phoebe’s not even close to getting her act together. She may be a disaster, but not tragically so. She’s mildly worried about it (those bills haunt her like a monster under the bed) but not enough to let it
radically alter her innate messiness. The showrunner is Jonathan Groff — not that Jonathan Groff — and his writing credits include “How I Met Your Mother,” “Happy Endings” and “black-ish.” You can see the care given to finding a tone that’s smart-alecky without being glib.
Self-deprecation and slivers of vulnerability go a long way. But so does the show’s lightness. Mostly, Phoebe is unbothered — and she’s not wrong. If you can’t find the humor in dysfunction, you might as well pack it in. And it’s to Robinson’s credit that everyone here is allowed to be funny, even Carlos as a fictional version of her straight-laced sibling.
“Your sister just hung up on me!” his wife says in astonishment after a disagreement. Yeah, that’s kind of our family thing, he explains nonchalantly. “It’s how we know we love each other.” He pauses for a perfectly timed moment. “That actually reminds me, I owe her a hang-up.”
In comedy, timing is everything.
Where to watch: Wednesdays on Freeform; streaming next day on Hulu