Public Image is Trash
Episode 4 of Everything’s Trash Season 1 begins with Jessie walking into work. She notices a fellow professor, Yann George, sharing Phoebe’s podcast with his class. He’s a huge fan and asks if Jessie can get her sister-in-law to lecture at the Sontag Speaker series.
While Phoebe scores this success, Jayden struggles to gain approval of younger voters. Michael tells him he needs to change his style. Most importantly, he needs new shoes.
Jessie worries that Phoebe is going to embarrass her when she meets her colleagues at a cocktail hour. One professor rudely asks what Phoebe’s podcast contributes to her field, and Phoebe defends her show well.
“You, professor, are trash,” she says. So is everything and everyone around them. “Actually, everything’s trash, and it’s only through acknowledging it and diving into the muck that we even stand a chance of surviving the dumpster fire that is our world.”
This impresses Yann, and he asks her to get out of there with him. They stop to sit on a park bench and make out–but Yann quickly kills the mood for Phoebe. He asks her to recite the copy from her ad sponsor, like she does on her podcast. When she does, he orgasms almost immediately.
Phoebe is going to tell Jessie what happened, but Jessie is so excited to hear that Yann loved Phoebe and her “culture-shifting ideas.” She says he might vouch for her on the speaker circuit if she nails her seminar talk. He also wants to meet Phoebe again to further discuss her lecture. Phoebe reluctantly agrees.
Meanwhile, Jayden campaigns in his new shoes, but ruins them when he steps into the mud to help an older woman. A kid takes a picture of his shoes and says he’s going to post them online. Of course, his opponent Tom Weaver uses the footage to roast Jayden. Jayden then decides he’s going to clean his shoes up and get back out there.
Phoebe meets with Yann again, and they start making out after she goes over her lecture. But when he turns on an educational podcast to help him get in the mood, Phoebe runs away.
She calls Jessie to tell her what happened and says she can’t do the lecture. She says Jessie was right about her: that she doesn’t belong in academia, and that Yann’s choosing her was never about her great ideas.
Jessie complains to Phoebe that she’s leaving a huge mess behind. They end the call angry with each other.
Jayden, cleaning his shoes with a toothbrush, steps in to help Jessie. He says that Phoebe tripped up and needed support, but Jessie didn’t give it to her. Meanwhile, Malika tries to reassure Phoebe that everything Yann said about her work and ideas was true.
Jessie then calls to apologize to Phoebe and insist that she does belong in an academic setting. She deserves to be on that stage for her own merits.
Bolstered by her friends, Phoebe does give the talk. She even explains at the end why she almost didn’t show up. When she applied at this school, she got rejected. She didn’t expect to be celebrated here. But then she realized that all of her, messy and smart, belongs here. And that goes for everyone in the room.
The Episode Review
You can always count on Phoebe Robinson to employ her entertaining and fun-loving voice to provide some sort of pertinent commentary in Everything’s Trash. Unfortunately, the line between comedy and cringe in this show is very thin.
The storyline with Jayden’s shoes, for one, should have obviously been written off as a trite idea. I do think there’s a greater message hidden there about the superficiality of any election process. But the overblown characterization of Jayden as an old-fashioned bore, combined with the infantilization of the younger generation, just doesn’t sell this point in any meaningful way.
So far, at least, the show is proving good for a few laughs and thought-provoking moments–even if both comedy and commentary are extremely overstated.