‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episodes 1 & 2: Recap & Ending, Explained: What Problems Arise In Toby’s Married Life?


The drama miniseries “Fleishman is in Trouble” on FX on Hulu is a bit different from usual comedy dramas in its content, for it is not set on the usual plots of such a genre. Adapted from Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel of the same name, this series is more about the very real anxieties, troubles, and thoughts of a divorced man after his wife goes missing, leaving their kids behind with him. With two episodes out, “Fleishman is in Trouble” looks like a really fresh watch, with its focus and craft being more realistic than many other works on screen these days.

Spoilers Ahead

‘Fleishman is in Trouble’ Episodes 1 And 2 Recap And Ending

Toby Fleishman is a recently divorced man in his forties who has a flurry of realizations and understandings at this very unusual point in life. After being married to Rachel Fleishman for fifteen long years, Toby starts to question whether he should have seen this eventual separation a long time ago through signs and premonitions of the definite breakdown of their marriage. There were, after all, a lot of differences and mismatches between the two, and most of what we see of their married life is just bickering and disagreements. Toby has lost their big, lavish house as well as the custody of their two children in this divorce battle, but not all is gloom for him either as he wakes up in his much smaller and less-flashy apartment in New York City. Some of his younger colleagues had suggested that he use dating apps once he had told them of his divorce, and Toby had followed suit, buying into the premium membership benefits with his credit card details. This had opened up a completely new world for him, almost like a reawakening, as a number of women with varying degrees of interest and readiness for casual hookups have been contacting Toby for the last few weeks. Never a very popular figure in high school or college, let alone popular among women, this new demand that Toby feels for himself in the casual dating market is what gives him a sense of great satisfaction.

Another aspect that he enjoys following his divorce is the fact that his therapist advised him to get back into the relationships he had gotten out of since his marriage, and this included his close friendship with his two college friends. During Toby’s college years, he spent time in Jerusalem, where a great bond grew between him, Libby, and Seth. However, this bond was lost some twelve years ago after his marriage to Rachel, and this seems to have been due to Rachel and the two friends’ dislike for each other. Ever since his divorce, Libby and Seth have become the closest aides to Toby, as he often meets them for discussions and rants on life and his present situation, and Libby does not even hide the fact that she totally dislikes Rachel. It is through the discussions with these friends that Toby reveals more about the thoughts that have come to him in this turn in life. The friends, especially Libby, also seem affected in a way by this divorce, for the fact that Toby is all on his own now, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that he is so in demand in the casual dating scene makes her wonder and consider her own marriage too. Having earlier worked as a writer for a magazine, Libby does not work at present, possibly to accommodate her roles in life as a housewife and mother, and at present, she becomes the narrator of ‘Fleishman is in Trouble.’ 

This trouble, in a more definite sense, begins when one morning, Rachel leaves their children—eleven-year-old Hannah and nine-year-old Solly—in Toby’s apartment without any prior information. As Rachel had won custody of the kids, they possibly spent time with their father only during the weekends, but on this particular occasion, Rachel dropped them off a day earlier than expected. It is only through voicemails left on Toby’s phone that he realizes that his ex-wife has done so at around 4 in the morning because she wanted to go away on a yoga retreat. Toby struggles to balance giving time to his children with his extremely demanding work as a doctor at the Thaddeus Hospital. Added to this is the fact that young Hannah despises most things about her dad, on the surface, that is, and she desperately yearns that their mother returns and takes them to the Hamptons on a trip that had been promised to them for a long time. Solly is a little more understanding, or less critical, of his father, but the young boy also requires a lot of attention, as he is at the age of confusion and new learning. After managing to fire their nanny, Mona, who was the only one spending some quality time with the children, Toby struggles even more and finally takes the kids to the Hamptons. Here they stay at a house owned by the family before the divorce, as it is now owned only by Rachel, and Toby hates the experience of it. He gradually starts to try and do away with the restrictions and rules that he has imposed on his children, like not giving Hannah a smartphone before she turns twelve. Realizations dawn upon him in regard to parenting as well, as he decides to no longer continue parenting in the fashion that he used to when Rachel was still around. Toby buys Hannah a smartphone and then decides to send the kids to summer camps, even though Solly is not too excited about this. While the children are about to go, Toby also has the thought that he is probably doing the exact same thing that Rachel would have done to solve a problem—throw money at it. But it is too late to change summer plans, and Toby does not necessarily seem very intent on doing so either, and Hannah and Solly are driven away to their respective summer camps.

Despite these massive changes in life, Toby is also very excited about how his own summer is going to be. After fifteen straight years, he is about to spend it all by himself, with all the excitement and possible adventures of a single forty-one-year-old man. He meets with Libby and Seth, and it is only now that another ultimate perception hits him hard. During all this time, Toby had made multiple attempts to get in touch with Rachel but could get no response whatsoever from the ex-wife. He had called up the place of the yoga retreat as well, but they refused to share any details about any client making use of their service. Nobody knew where Rachel was until Toby ran into a group of common friends who said that they had recently seen Rachel on a park bench, possibly passed out. Toby reveals that his ex-wife had at times used the “roofies” drug in their past, but despite all of this, he had not been worried about her at all. It is only now, when Seth and Libby suggest something like it, that Toby fears that something bad or wrong might have happened to Rachel, and for the first time, he finds himself concerned about her well-being.

Why Had Toby And Rachel’s Marriage Fallen Apart?

From what is evident so far in these two episodes of “Fleishman is in Trouble,” there seems to have been a huge gap between the individual goals and wants in life when it came to Toby and Rachel. While the woman was extremely ambitious about being successful in life financially to be able to afford a rich lifestyle, Toby was more driven about his work, which was also his passion. To him, the rich friends that the couple had were obnoxious and almost intolerable, for they were never concerned about passion and thought only of financial success. Being a rich owner of a medicine company, one of these friends, who was really the husband of Rachel’s friend, had offered Toby the chance to leave his job at the hospital and join this company to head a research unit. Although this would have paid much more than his current work, with maybe less intense work, Toby outright denied this chance, for he prioritized his principles over earning money. Not only would he have been unable to have any patient interaction in this work, which is something very important to him, but the very research was for proving that substances like marijuana had no role to play in medicine. Toby, on the other hand, believed that any and every possible method to reduce pain and stress for patients should be used to do so, and therefore he found it rather insulting that someone could offer him such a job. He also gets to know that Rachel had a role to play in this offer too, and he confronts her, saying that he had never become a doctor to earn money. This had increased an already existing rift between the two, as Rachel soon bought their lavish house, which she had always wanted to own but had not because her husband was not yet willing to do so. It is also not that Toby is without any faults on his own, for he seems rather uptight and stiff about certain things in life, particularly about class differences and social and financial privileges. While he is rightly acknowledging and considerate about social class and the question of affordability, Toby also sometimes seems to be forceful about this, as if pressuring himself into believing this in all instances. When he visits their house in the Hamptons and apparently hates it, Toby probably wants to hate the experience because it is against his beliefs and principles, and it is almost like he holds himself back from enjoying the time. These primarily seem to be the reasons why his marriage had fallen apart, but more might be revealed in the later episodes too. Also, worth noting here is the interesting fact that this story is being narrated not by Rachel or Toby but by Libby, and so it is essentially her perspective on the matter that is being presented. This gives rise to the possibility that perhaps this narration is also marked by Libby’s own thoughts and prejudices and might not necessarily be the exact truth.

What Should We Expect Next From ‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episode 3?

The end of every episode in “Fleishman is in Trouble” provides a short peek into events that are about to follow, and judging from the end of episode 2, more exploration into Toby and Rachel’s relationship is about to come. The issue of the social class divide, which seems to be a very important strain in the series, would increase too, as more of the ex-couple’s differences would be revealed. The whole thing is also going to have an impact on Libby and Seth’s individual lives as well, and we are about to witness their personal spaces too. Along with all this, finding out whether any information about Rachel’s current situation will be revealed is something to look forward to.

See More: ‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Episode 3: Recap & Ending, Explained – What Happened In Rachel & Toby’s Lives?

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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