Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is in Trouble is not about the end of a marriage — it’s about what leads us to want to tie our life to another’s, the idealism that goes along with lifelong commitment and the reincarnation that inevitably takes place in relationships over time.

“Taffy always says, ‘This is not a story about divorce. This is a story about marriage,’ ” says director Valerie Faris. “[Fleishman] makes you realize how much work it is to be in a good relationship and how easy it is for it to just fall apart, too.”

Faris and her directing partner — and husband — Jonathan Dayton met in the late 1970s at UCLA’s film school. They began directing together shortly thereafter and are known for their work on the Oscar-winning film Little Miss Sunshine. Married for 35 years, they know a little something about the work behind a marriage.

Related Stories

Faris and Dayton are only one of two directing couples at the helm of Fleishman. The other is Oscar-nominated filmmaking duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor), who have been married since 1994 and began directing together professionally in 1997.

“We’re attracted to stories with multiple angles, stories you can look at in more than one way,” says Pulcini. “Because life is complicated, and relationships are very complicated.”

Beginning in the wake of Toby Fleishman’s divorce, the series appears at first to be very uncomplicated, with the angry, embittered Toby (Jesse Eisenberg) rebounding his way through New York City while ranting about his workaholic ex-wife, Rachel (Claire Danes). But the series pivots by introducing Libby (Lizzy Caplan), Toby’s friend who is on her own quest to reclaim her pre-vows identity while her husband, Adam (Josh Radnor), is left in limbo. Another plot wrinkle reveals the trauma Rachel experienced during her first pregnancy, leaving her unable to be the same person she was when she married Toby. And then there’s Toby and Libby’s friend Seth (Adam Brody), a lonely bachelor yearning for companionship despite his friends’ discontentment.

The result is what Faris describes as a prismatic view of relationships and marriage — a story that breaks the singular concept of marriage into its parts to discover its truth.

It seems only appropriate, then, that the series was split between the two directing teams, with Faris and Dayton directing episodes one, three and seven, and Springer Berman and Pulcini directing episodes four, five, six and eight. (Episode two was directed by Alice Wu.)

Claire Danes and Jesse Eisenberg in FX Hulu’s limited series Fleishman Is in Trouble.

Claire Danes and Jesse Eisenberg in FX/Hulu’s limited series Fleishman Is in Trouble. Courtesy of Giovanni Rufino/FX

The division ends there, however, with both sets of married filmmakers laughing when asked how they approach their shared directorial roles tactically.

“It’s messy,” says Dayton, smiling at Faris. “There is no divide and conquer. We’re both in everything.”

“It’s always how we’ve worked,” Faris replies. “We’ve raised three children. We’ve done everything like that. It’s just the way we operate. … It’s also more fun to be in it together.”

It’s a similar story for Springer Berman and Pulcini. “It’s more about the conversations than about the actual filmmaking,” explains Pulcini. “There are things — especially with material like [Fleishman] — that Shari will understand and explain to me, and vice versa. There are times that I have a perspective and I see something from a bigger picture. … We talk about things a lot.”

To maintain continuity throughout the series, the couples then joined forces, discussing issues like the voiceovers and when and how to integrate the unique rotating camera work for the series’ world-turned-upside-down shots.

“We all just helped each other,” says Springer Berman. “It was like a little director army. … Everyone brought something different to the table.”

This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Source: Hollywood

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Sundance: Oscar-Winning Producer Jonathan Wang Talks “Notoriously Toxic Trade,” Issues Challenge to “Be Present” on Sets

One of the biggest challenges of the Sundance Film Festival is trying…

Mark Thompson Expected to Be Named CNN’s Next CEO

CNN has found its next CEO. Mark Thompson, the former chief executive…

Greta Gerwig, Roger Ross Williams, Cord Jefferson, Nicolas Cage to Receive SFFILM Awards  

Barbie director Greta Gerwig, filmmakers Roger Ross Williams and Cord Jefferson and…

Selena Gomez Says She Cried Watching Meryl Streep Rehearse for ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Musical Performances

The cast and creators of Only Murders in the Building reunited for…