“Fleishman is in Trouble” was created by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the author of the 2019 novel of the same name, on which the miniseries is based. 41-year-old Toby Fleishman’s midlife crisis reaches an all-time high when he discovers the burden that comes with being a single parent, as well as the pleasures of sexual freedom, in the middle of his divorce. The show is narrated by one of Toby’s friends, Elizabeth Slater, who also seems to be the voice of Toby’s mind. As the episodes progress, we get closer and closer to Toby’s consciousness, and it almost feels as if we, the viewers, know as much about him as he does, if not more.
‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episode 1: Recap
New York, Present
Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg) wakes up in his new apartment to a long list of women on the dating app he has been using. A specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology at St. Thaddeus Hospital in Manhattan, he is in the middle of a divorce with Rachel (Claire Danes), from whom he gets a voicemail saying that she is going to a yoga retreat upstate, Everglade, and has left the kids with him. Rachel is a famed theater agent and the owner of Fleishman and Co. Talent Agency. So they are rich, or they were rich, or Toby was rich once upon a time but now isn’t, or he won’t be in some time. (Pick one.) He rushes to the bedroom and finds his kids, Solly and Hanna, asleep. He is not supposed to have them until the next day, and he doesn’t want to leave them with a babysitter, Mona. The fact is, he has plans of his own for the night. He calls Rachel and tells her about it, but she apparently needs some “me time.” The call ends with yet another quarrel. Hanna is one of those kids who is annoyed or maybe ashamed of her parents, thanks to her filthy rich friend Lexi. Solly is the affectionate one. After breakfast, Toby drops the kids off at the school that is at the world-renowned community and cultural center, 92nd Street Y, yet another contribution from Rachel that Toby dreads visiting purely due to its capitalist aura. There, he meets Rachel’s school-mom friend Cyndi, who tells him about having another dinner with the kids, another thing Toby dreads, especially due to Cyndi’s husband and other husbands of Rachel’s other school-mom friends who always brag about their riches and keep on reminding Toby of his rags. These guys include Sam Rothberg (vice president of a pharmaceutical company), Todd Leffer (portfolio manager at a debt fund), and Rich Hertz (whose father made a fortune in the 80s by buying life insurance).
After dropping his kids off at school, he arrives at his job, which has been his source of comfort amid his divorce, with his three juniors, Clay, Joanie, and Philip, offering their companionship. Toby tells them about it and that he moved into a new apartment recently. Joanie shows him a dating app that also shows women who are more sexually available. He goes through the app passively for a week or two without engaging. One weekend, however, with his loneliness creeping up on him as Rachel had taken the kids out, Toby explores the dating app and is overwhelmed by the number of women who start showing interest in him. By late Sunday, he had found renewed momentum in life. He even plans a date with a woman named Tess.
The next day, i.e., Monday, at the hospital, he comes across a formerly ailing liver that has now healed itself beyond recognition. This seems to give Toby the belief that he, too, will regenerate from the damage in his life. This is when a new patient comes in who has Wilson’s disease, i.e., her body isn’t able to get rid of copper and stores it in different parts of the body. This leads to the clumsiness that her husband mentioned. Toby tells her husband about the situation and asks him to take a few days off from work and tell his family and friends about it so that they can take care of his kids. After work, Toby arrives at an eatery where his friends from college, Libby and Seth, are already present. He reached out to them after many years, and they have been meeting regularly since he told them about his divorce.
Elizabeth Epstein, AKA Libby, is at home with her husband when she receives a call from her old friend Toby Fleishman after 12 years. He tells her about his divorce from Rachel, a woman Libby hated. They meet up, and Toby tells Libby about his new apartment and the dating app. Libby tells him that she doesn’t have a job anymore. Seth, on the other hand, is glad that he has his friend back and wants to take Toby to a yoga retreat, a place that, according to Seth, always has women. One day, Toby invites Libby and Seth to his apartment, with Rachel and the kids not around, and they speak about how the concept of getting married just doesn’t get along with the idea of staying together “forever.” People grow up. They change and outgrow their partners. But Toby has found a therapy for it in the dating app.
At the eatery, Toby tells Seth and Libby about Rachel and how he cannot be with someone who doesn’t understand the nature of consequences and how the world will have its way despite any amount of planning. Libby curses Rachel with embolism, and it brings a smile to the faces of Seth and Toby. As glad as Toby is to have these two by his side, he has to go pick up his kids.
Hanna doesn’t want to travel by bus, but Toby’s word is final. Inside the bus, Toby tells Hanna that she needs to be with people without wanting to be like them, e.g., her rich friend Lexi, daughter of the Leffers, Cyndi, and Todd. That night, after agreeing to help Solly with his school project, he leaves for his date night. Mona, the babysitter, has arrived too.
Toby arrives at a bar to meet his new date, Tess, who turns out to be the first of the many women he meets and makes love to in the following months. One day, at home, he gets a text from Tess asking for a date at his apartment the next day, i.e., Sunday at 6 p.m. Toby knows that his kids will be away. As for today, he is taking Hanna to the Leffers for her sleepover. Rachel is supposed to pick her up the next day (Sunday) at 4 p.m. After leaving Hanna there, he takes Solly out book shopping. There, he tries to contact Rachel, but there is no answer.
It’s Sunday, Toby’s date night, and there is still no answer from Rachel. He receives a text from Cyndi saying that it’s 4.30 and Rachel hasn’t come to pick up Hanna. Cyndi and her husband have to leave for a golf tournament. This means that Toby has to pick up Hanna now. At the Leffers, Hanna is annoyed that her mom didn’t come. With no other option, Toby brings Hanna, Lexi, and Solly to his apartment. There was no reply from Rachel, not even an emoji that was very prevalent in her chats. He gets a call from Libby, who has been reflecting on how, despite being the same age, she and Toby have completely different lifestyles. Toby’s life was unpredictable, which brought with it a sense of possibility and restored youth. Libby, on the other hand, felt old with his husband and two kids. She receives a delivery and finds a pen inside it, sent by Seth. She had left her job as a writer, but Seth’s hopes for her were still high.
It is 5.55 p.m. Hanna and Lexi are ready to go to the theater for a show at 7, which was booked by Rachel, but Toby has no idea where she is. Hanna is distressed. This is when the bell rings. The three kids rush to the door and open it, only to find a woman in lingerie. They scream and run off inside. It is Tess. Toby rushes out and closes the door behind him, apologizing to her. Tess is equally shocked at what just happened and leaves humiliated. Toby goes back inside to a crying Solly and a yelling Hanna, who wants to know where her mom is. Toby has no idea what’s going on. He texts Rachel again, “Where are you?”
‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episode: 2 Recap
Toby, Seth, and Libby are having a conversation when a beggar comes around. She curses both Seth and Libby after each of them gives her some coins. When Toby gives her a single bill of cash, she blesses him, saying that he will heal the world with his kindness and that nothing bad will happen to him.
New York, Present
It is Monday. Toby is on his way to work. He has left his kids with the babysitter, Mona, who was supposed to have the week off. There is still no news from Rachel, who was supposed to take the kids to the Hamptons, their home, before Toby shifted to his new apartment. He arrives at work and finds out that he has gotten a promotion. He wanted to tell Rachel about it and about how he got it due to being devoted to his job.
Two Years Ago
The Fleishmans are invited by Miriam and Sam Rothberg to their place for the New Year. Sam offers Toby a job at his new division around marijuana that will pay him a lot. Toby, however, makes it clear that he is happy with what he does. Sam mentions how Rachel told him that Toby would resist the offer. Toby thus realizes that the whole thing was Rachel’s idea. After returning home, he confronts Rachel about it. Rachel wants to bring better opportunities for Toby, but Toby is rather annoyed at the way she is trying to get what she wants: an apartment that they had the opportunity to buy but cannot due to Toby’s apparently meager job that still pays him $300,000 a year. The following weekend, Rachel starts looking for an apartment without telling Toby. They visit a new apartment that Rachel likes, and Toby realizes that, though she acts as if she is trying to convince him to buy it, she has already made up her mind.
Toby returns home to his kids. Hanna is annoyed at the way things are in her family; she has no idea where her mom is, and her father seems to not care either. Toby turns on his computer and finds multiple tabs of adult sites open. Realizing that it is Solly, he decides to speak to him. 9-year-old Solly starts crying, and Toby tries to make him understand that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. During one of these moments, he receives a text from Nahid, his new date. A feeling of revulsion spreads throughout his mind and body. After Solly goes inside, Toby texts their babysitter, Mona, saying that her services are no longer required.
Tuesday has arrived, and so has summer. Toby has been wondering how to get back to Mona after the text he sent her. By not requiring her services, he would only compromise the only stability in the lives of his kids. He brings them to the hospital and tells them to wait until he is back soon enough. Unfortunately, time slows down at work. Toby tries to contact the Everglade, but they deny sharing any information about their guests. He then texts Rachel to get an estimated time of her arrival. During work hours, he finds his kids lying in the waiting room, fatigued out of boredom. He decides to take two days off and takes the kids to the Hamptons. They arrive at their house in the Hamptons, a place Toby has hated even more since his divorce from Rachel. That night, he masturbated himself to sleep.
Wednesday is here. Toby drops Hanna off at Finn MacCool’s bar and restaurant for a treat with her friends. There he meets Roxanne Hertz, the wife of Rich Hertz, who offers to take Hanna to dinner. She even agrees to take Solly. As much as the kids would probably like it, Toby finds it unsettling that Roxanne didn’t find it unusual seeing the kids with him and not Rachel, especially since usually it was Rachel who had them throughout the week.
Toby calls Libby on the way back to Hampton and tells her about what’s going on. Libby tells Toby to look into their bank accounts, which might show where Rachel is spending her money. Toby reaches home to find an unknown woman who also doesn’t seem to know him. He comes to know that the woman takes care of the place. She leaves quietly after he introduces himself as Rachel’s husband. Toby then tries to log in to their bank accounts but remembers that they were told by the mediator to change their passwords; it was part of moving on. And now, Rachel had finally changed the passwords without telling him. Stressed and distressed, Toby decides to take a dip in the pool, but it doesn’t last for long as the woman returns with two cops, and he is told to leave the premises. They get into the car, but Toby doesn’t want to ruin things anymore with his kids. So he decides to do what needs to be done. He decides to move on, just like Rachel has. He gets Hanna a new phone, something that she has wanted for a very long time. They then go out for dinner at the kids’ favorite place. At night, Toby decides to send them to a summer camp, thinking of it as a solution that will not only help the kids but also get them away from the situation that they are dealing with. He also kept the date with Nahid, the woman with whom he had been communicating for weeks. One night, he returns to his apartment from another date with Nahid and finds Hanna crying. She texted her mother, but there was no reply. As sad as she is, she blames her father for her mother’s absence. Rachel would have been there had she not hated him so much.
‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episode 2: Ending Explained – Where Is Rachel Fleishman?
A few days later, Toby puts the kids on the bus to summer camp. Neither Hanna nor Solly are happy about it, but Toby knows that it needs to be done. As the bus leaves, he texts Seth and Libby for a meet-up. He tells them that Rachel is still gone. He cannot stop thinking about Rachel because, even though she did this earlier, too (taking extra days on a business trip, etc.), it’s been more than three days now. A normal person would at least call or text once. This is when Libby tells him if something has actually happened to Rachel. This is when Toby reminds himself, Libby, and Seth of the time Rachel got home late, and he found that she had been drugged. Now, no matter how much he tries to convince himself that Rachel does what she is doing on a regular basis, he cannot ignore the fact that she might be in danger. Just then, he gets a call from the hospital where he is needed. He excuses himself and has only walked a short distance when he gets another call from the hospital telling him that everything is fine and he doesn’t need to go. But the effect has already started. Suddenly, Toby saw danger everywhere. Rachel is probably doing just fine at the yoga camp, but what if she’s not? Toby needed to get himself together so that he could think clearly. He goes to the market to buy some fruits, some source of citrus that will help him lower his stress and anxiety (his doctor mind working perfectly). At the store, he meets Miriam Rothberg and Cyndi Leffer, who mention having had two Fleishman sightings in one day. This hits Toby so hard. nothing the two ladies tell him after that registers in his head. He asks them about their Fleishman sighting and finds that the ladies saw Rachel napping in the park. Toby’s world just turned upside down.
There is absolutely no way to figure out what happened to Rachel unless Toby rushes to the park and asks her himself—and that is only if she is still there. Rachel has a lot to answer for, but the gravity of the questions is nothing compared to that of the state Toby is in. There is no clue where she has been or for how long, and her naps seem to remind Toby of the night that she returned home drugged. He can only hope that Rachel is okay. As for the rest, Episode 3 will reveal all.