The only reason we root for Sheila at all is Byrne, who stokes her character’s desperation while gradually finding the building blocks of her strength, in aerobics class and out of it. The scene where Sheila finally takes down Jerry is a series high point. But Sheila’s success appears to be accidental more than inspirational: Yes, she pushes for some milestones, but some of the most momentous events in her career appear to unfold via happenstance. And even though Sheila’s ladder-climbing is fictional, there does appear to be a faint, unspoken connection to Jane Fonda, who started her workout video empire (and eventually created an entire industry) as a way to fund then-husband Tom Hayden’s political aspirations.


As with so many streaming series, Physical leaves a lot of unanswered questions at the end of its 10th episode, ostensibly to set up a second season, as Sheila isn’t quite yet the aerobics mogul/star we spot filming a flashy video at the start of the series. Physical appears to be banking on enough people actually wanting to revisit this show to continue on Sheila’s transformative journey. That’s a prospect that seems unlikely.