Originally the first half of the title of her second book (full title Everything's Trash, But It's Okay, published in 2018), Everything's Trash is now a half-hour comedy created by and starring Robinson as a fictional version of herself, or, as she calls her, "TV Phoebe." But she didn't only take inspiration from that book of essays for her latest series, she also pulled from her expertise as a podcaster on 2 Dope Queens, her real-life relationship with her brother who works in politics, and her keen sense of multitasking, which she proved on-screen in Doing the Most With Phoebe Robinson.
Robinson is now a best-selling author multiple times over who has also written for, produced, and acted in numerous film and television projects, including turning 2 Dope Queens into a HBO series of the same title alongside Jessica Williams. But that doesn't mean she hasn't struggled, and it was in those less-than-stellar moments that she found the heart of her new show.
The fictionalized "TV Phoebe" is a character Robinson lovingly describes as "kind of a jerk, kind of a trashy person," whose life is definitely "messy." But because "we all have flaws, we all do things that are messed up, let's acknowledge it and maybe, by acknowledging, we can become better," she tells Metacritic.
"You can be in your 30s and still trying to figure things out and make mistakes, and with this character, I want to show that it's OK. And I want people to empathize with that because I think we all have moments where we'll see one of our friends and be like, 'This bitch is a sloppy mess. Get it together!' We all have that friend, and sometimes we are that friend. It doesn't mean that they're not worthy, that they're not valid, and that they don't have good qualities about them," she continues.
"TV Phoebe" lives and works in New York City. She has a podcast titled Everything's Trash, produced by her good friend Malika (Toccarra Cash), and she has a close relationship with her brother Jayden (Jordan Carlos), who is running for political office. She is juggling trying to grow her show and her brand with volunteering and campaigning for Jayden, both of which is complicated by her lack of funds and personal entanglements, most notably with Hamilton (Brandon Jay McLaren), who works for Jayden's opposition.
"We wanted to make sure that yes, she's messy, but she's not intentionally destructive. We wanted to make sure that she just wasn't selfish for the sake of being selfish and that it's really because she feels like this might be the best decision for herself in the moment," Robinson says. "This character really just leans into that philosophy of, 'Yeah, I'm gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna do messed up things, and let me just own it.'"
Whether Hamilton may be one of those mistakes is yet to be seen. Robinson teases that "he's unlike anyone else she's dated because she's there for a good time, not a long time. And this is a guy who challenges her, whether it's emotionally or just personality wise. And so, I think what's really exciting is that, in addition to Jayden, Hamilton is going to also force her to grow up a little bit in surprising ways."
Writing "TV Phoebe" this way allowed Robinson to not only create "a show set in New York that's aspirational, but also realistic in a lot of ways," and it also allowed her to live vicariously through her character from time to time. The two share similarities in their backgrounds and in how they are each an "open book" when it comes to sharing personal stories, but "TV Phoebe" has not reached the heights that the real Robinson has yet.
"Sometimes she makes choices that I wouldn't make and I'm always like, 'Yes, I want more of that.' And then sometimes I'm like, 'Girl, why are you doing this?' It's easy for me to compartmentalize, I think, because I'm past a lot of those things that she's still figuring out, so now I just get to have fun and play," Robinson explains.
But it also gave her a chance to write "a love letter" to some key relationships in her life. First on that list is her relationship with her brother, Ohio representative Phil Robinson, who she refers to as PJ. But her relationship to podcasting and working with Williams is a foundational part of the series, as well.
"He's such a nerd. He wears little sweater vests on the weekend. He's so sweet and nerdy. He loves watching C-SPAN for fun and he just had a couple weeks off from work and he was like, 'Oh, yeah, I've been at home organizing stuff, watching reruns ofMatlock,'" she says of her brother. "We always find ways to be there for each other in our own specific way, utilizing our strengths. When he was running for state rep, I would host live comedy shows [and] fundraisers for his campaign. That was my way of giving back, which she mirrors in the show. The one thing I will say that is a difference between myself and TV Phoebe is that I never got in my brother's way, the way that she does!"
She adds: "Podcasting, especially when you start out, really doesn't pay anything, so I really wanted to honor that journey. 2 Dope Queens was such a special time in my life [and] I wanted to have that joyful element that I think 2 Dope Queens has. With the podcast producer of Malika, you really get that sisterhood energy that was definitely inspired by 2 Dope Queens."
As the creator, writer, executive producer, and star of Everything's Trash, Robinson has more than enough on her plate as it is, but she notes that she would love to use it to get back to her podcast roots even more.
The first season of the show was a whirlwind of production, wrapping less than two weeks before the show was set to premiere (which meant Robinson was often looking at cuts for episodes in the editing room while still filming other episodes), so there was not the time, nor the opportunity to produce full-length versions of "TV Phoebe's" Everything's Trash podcast. However, "when we get a Season 2 — I like to speak it into existence — I would love to have that component," she says.
Everything's Trash airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Freeform but its premiere will begin at 10 p.m. on July 13 because it consists of two back-to-back episodes.
Get to know Phoebe Robinson:
Prior to Everything's Trash, Robinson pulled in front of the camera and behind the scenes double duty on 2 Dope Queens (Metascore: 87) and Doing the Most With Phoebe Robinson. As an actor, she has also appeared in Search Party (78), I Love Dick (73), and Ibiza (56), and lent her voice to BoJack Horseman (82).