3 out of 5
Created by: Phoebe Robinson
covers season 1
When I first saw Juno, I thought it was hilarious, alongside being an affecting film. The next few times I went through it, though, I realized I could better parse out what was presentation and story and script and what was… language. That’s not to knock Diablo Cody’s writing or Ivan Reitman’s direction, just to say that the layer of “chatter” that was lain atop actual character and dialogue became much more visible, and as such, not as necessary – not as wedded to the movie. Obviously having character speak “naturally” is fantastic, but there can become a point where it’s shtick.
And that’s what hit me with Everything’s Trash, Freeform’s adaptation of star Phoebe Robinson’s Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay podcast – note that that’s a much more hopeful sounding name – which, the colorful language of the lead aside, is mostly just a pretty regular sitcom. A funny one – sometimes very funny – with a few key performances making it work (definitely including Robinson, who knows how to lean in to her particular instagram-lingoed shtick well), but still: it’s easy to get distracted by the very now podcast premise (as of 2022) and that layer of chatter, and then a few episodes in you realize it’s just relationship hijinx and a central character who effs up and then apologizes by episode’s end, so… yes: pretty regular sitcom stuff.
Thankfully, because of that “stuff,” though, Everything’s Trash can remain interesting beyond its distractions, and keeps some throughlines – Phoebe’s on-again / off-again relationship with Hamilton Hayes (Brandon Jay McLaren); her brother’s (Jordan Carlos) political aspirations; roommate Michael’s (Moses Storm) constant bid for friend Malika’s (Toccarra Cash) affections… – constantly rotating, which gives the show a lively feel that vibes really well with Robinson’s energy, while also not being made disposable by one-and-done randomness.
But the topics the show gives a lot of voice to up front – the sexuality acceptance / ownership; confronting race and gender divides – or pretty much only casually spoken to, supplanted by the sitcom stuff. Which is fine, as it’s really hard to blend serious and silly consistently, but it’s unfortunately also a pretty common mentality that’s too easy to equate with the youthy demographic of the show: toss a few buzzwords out there, and you’ve “confronted” things.
…Swing back around, though, and all that “chatter” – a wold I will keep using so as not to sound too old-man about such things – is put to good use lampshading the exact behavior I just criticized, which is also thus worked into the DNA of the show. And to its credit, as things go along, the balance of all of this is much better, mostly letting the messaging take a backseat to comedy. (Again: making it a regular sitcom.)
I laughed. Fear not, though: I will not be trying to co-opt any of Robinson’s lingo.