Review: Everything’s Trash

Navigating politics, respectability, and social media can be complicated

4 mins read

Where to Watch: Freeform / Hulu

First Air: 7.13.2022

Rating: TV-MA

Delivered with a brash, irreverent sense of humor, Freeform series Everything’s Trash is the perfect example of art imitating the messiness of life. Created by comedian Phoebe Robinson, the show follows an outspoken podcaster on her path to adulthood as her older brother launches a political campaign. 

The show draws inspiration from real life: Phoebe is the co-creator of podcast 2 Dope Queens with actress and comedian Jessica Williams, and her brother Phil Robinson is a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

While the show’s premise seems ripped from real life, it isn’t a reality show. In this scripted series, Phoebe’s brother Jayden decides to run for office, causing problems for Phoebe. Her fans love her confident, uncensored means Phoebe’s openness is a liability. What’s more, she falls for Hamilton, the campaign manager for Jayden’s opponent, Tom.

Everything’s Trash | Official Trailer | Freeform – YouTube

The show focuses most intensely on the intersection of personal life and politics in the pilot, episode three, and the season finale. In these episodes, the show raises points about respectability politics for aspiring candidates and those in their circles. Respectability politics are often at play when people adopt appearances and behaviors deemed more socially acceptable as a means to an end. Politicians use social media in their campaigns more than ever before, but we expect people to seem more casual on the Gram than in a campaign speech. That opens them up to new avenues for criticism of how they represent themselves, their parties, and their values.

We expect politicians to uphold the values of their platforms, not only in their policies, but in their personal lives as well. Oftentimes this demands that they be educated, honest, and modest. When politicians fall short of these ideals, their supporters can feel betrayed. Campaigns are forfeited, offices are resigned, impeachments are initiated. 

Respectability can be complicated by intersectionality, defined as the interaction of multiple identities, especially for women and people of color. In Everything’s Trash, voters question whether Jayden is the right change in office for his community, not only because he is disconnected by his affluence, but because Phoebe is unapologetic in her sexuality and opinions. In the first episode, the press breaks news about her hookup with Hamilton and calls into question her loyalty to Jayden. In her attempt to defend herself and the campaign, she accidentally makes matters worse with a fashion faux pas while live streaming on her phone. Throughout the season, complete with social media mishaps and campaign setbacks, the siblings are able to remain true to themselves as they learn to navigate these complications.

As more Millennials and Gen Z pursue politics in a web of social media, the right way to maintain an authentic representation of ourselves is an ongoing challenge. Perhaps the best policy is to always be genuine, but to be aware of potential consequences that come with keeping it real.

Cierra Lockett

Cierra Lockett is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Loyola Marymount University with an MFA in Writing & Producing for Television. Raised in Memphis, she currently works in Los Angeles as a Production Coordinator in the MTV Entertainment Group at ViacomCBS, where she supports TV movies and series from prep to premiere. She loves culture, food, and trivia and board games. (She/her)

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