Talking Trash With Phoebe Robinson

·8 min read

To Phoebe Robinson, everything is trash. Except Bono. And the Obama years. And living out her dreams as the writer, producer, and star of her own sitcom, Everything’s Trash. Those things are sacred.

But the rest of it? Absolute trash. Garbage. Not even Michael B. Jordan—the man to whom she dedicated her 2021 book Please Don’t Sit On my Bed in Your Outside Clothes—is safe. “You know, I’m sure he probably has trash tendencies,” she tells me over the phone.

We’re speaking on July 13, the day after Everything Is Trash debuted its first two episodes on Freeform, and she sounds sleepy. Her familiar chirp, instantly recognizable to a longtime listener of the 2 Dope Queens podcast like myself, comes across the phone line as though through a filter. At first hello I wonder if I’m speaking to the correct famous Phoebe.

“I’m good,” she says when I ask how she’s feeling, the warmth of sleep seeping into her voice. “A little tired, but good.”

To be fair, she’s more than earned the right to feeling both tired and good. Everything’s Trash wrapped July 1, only two weeks before it premiered on July 15, giving the 37-year-old barely any downtime before the press tour commenced. Already her week had kicked off with a premiere party and appearances on Good Morning America and the Today show—not to mention a visit from her older brother, whose political aspirations inspired a central plot line in the show. This in addition to running a production company, Tiny Reparations, and a book imprint of the same name.

She perks up after a few minutes, speaking excitedly about her character Phoebe Hill, whose life is loosely based on Robinson’s own, adapted from her 2018 book of personal essays, Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay. Phoebe Hill, like her namesake, is a successful Brooklyn-based cohost of a humorous podcast whose fussy older brother is running for office. But Hill is less a stand-in for her real-life self than a lovable caricature: Phoebe Hill is Phoebe Robinson in all caps and bolded; she is messier, louder, and more broke. “TV Phoebe” is willing to risk it all for a good time, if only to apologize later. (Unlike Hill, you won’t catch Robinson, say, bathing in a stranger’s home after asking to use their restroom. “I don’t even like baths,” she tells me.)

“Sometimes the way that [my character] blows up things, you wish you could have those sort of freak-out moments,” Robinson says of her character’s exaggerated edges. “But in real life you don’t want to do that because you’ve been raised right.”

Read on for Robinson’s thoughts on Bono, Brooklyn, and what’s to come.

You’ve worked with so many different mediums—podcasts, books, and now TV. Why did you want to make the leap to TV? 

I love TV, I love sitcoms, I love friendship hangout shows, I love rom-coms, romantic comedies, and I feel like we sort of put all of that into a blender and that’s kind of what the show is. I really love my brother in real life, so it’s great to have the central relationship of the TV show be Phoebe and Jayden and to show sibling love and familial love.

I think a lot of shows about a single woman in wherever are sort of like, “Is she going to end up with a husband. Is she going to have kids?” We really just wanted a show to not be so deeply concerned with that.

Has your actual brother seen the show yet?

He and my sister-in-law flew to New York to watch the premiere. It was great, and we’ve been texting and chatting and stuff. I was on the phone with my mom before this interview, and she was saying how much she likes the show, so it was pretty cute.

Did they have any issues with how anything was portrayed?

No, because I mean, the show is obviously a mix of fictionalized stuff with some stuff that’s true to life. In the writing room we just really wanted to make the funniest show possible that has a lot of heart.

Are there any sitcoms or romantic comedies that really inspire you, either from the past or present? 

I loved rewatching Martin. And Happy Endings—Jonathan Groff, my showrunner, show-ran Happy Endings. I love South Side; I think it’s one of the funniest shows out there, and I really am obsessed with it.

There’s been a lot of talk about prestige TV—the golden age of television—and the seemingly endless stream of really dramatic content. It does feel refreshing to have a sitcom that shows the joys of everyday life. Was that something you consciously pursued?

Yeah, I just wanted to make a comedy that was actually really funny. Life is heavy enough, and I just really enjoy shows that make you laugh and you can sort of forget your problems for a bit.

I love some of the clothes that Phoebe Hill wears. How would you define her style versus yours?

Well, I'm a fashion head too, admittedly. I really love clothes and everything. I think her fashion style is really eclectic. She’s someone who doesn’t have a lot of money, but that doesn’t stop her from being able to turn out some really cool outfits.

Robinson at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022, in Beverly Hills.

2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones - Arrivals

Robinson at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022, in Beverly Hills.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Our costume designer, Anitra Michelle, is really great at that. It’s been fun exploring Phoebe’s character through her clothes, and you see a nice little evolution of her style in the first season. We both take fashion risks, so I feel like our styles are probably pretty similar. There are certain things that are maybe a little less practical that I might not wear, but overall, I respond to everything.

<h1 class="title">MOSES STORM, PHOEBE ROBINSON, TOCCARRA CASH</h1><cite class="credit">Giovanni Rufino</cite>

MOSES STORM, PHOEBE ROBINSON, TOCCARRA CASH

Giovanni Rufino

What do you want to do next?

I would love to write a romantic comedy for me to star in, because that’s just my favorite genre of movie. And I think I would like to do some TV directing, because I love the process of making TV, whether it’s the producing, the acting and writing, and watching the directors, who are all fantastic on this season.

If you could cast anyone, who would you choose to play the romantic lead opposite you in a rom-com?

I mean, I’d probably consult my Thirsty Thursday Rolodex on Instagram and just close my eyes and pick someone. You want someone who’s really funny and also good looking, and sometimes it’s kind of tricky. I think Jason Momoa would be a super-fun love interest. Gosh, there’s just so many. There’s so many cuties. The top 50 hot guys in Hollywood. 

I wanted to get your opinion on some things, to learn if everything really is trash. Let’s start with Bono. Is he trash?

No, he’s perfection. 

Michael B. Jordan?

You know, I’m sure he probably has trash tendencies.

Brooklyn?

Oh, man. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 20 years, I love it. But it can be a little trashy sometimes. But that’s also part of its charm.

It definitely has its moments. Manhattan?

Oh, yeah. Manhattan’s definitely trash.

The G train?

Ooh, man. Yes, the first four, five, years I lived in New York, I lived off the G train, and it’s just surely one of the worst lines, but it’s also kind of like…I don’t know, you just get used to it. So then you become like, “Oh, the little G train.” But yeah, it’s terrible.

Dating in New York?

Oh yeah, that’s trash too.

Podcasting?

I love podcasting so much. I’ve got to say, podcasting is awesome. It’s perfect. It’s not trash.

Bergamot?

It’s great, I love it. I get these Honey Pot wipes that have bergamot, and I love it.

So far, it’s sounding like not everything is trash, but just let’s see. I have a couple more. The Obama years?

The Obama years? Oh, my God, those were iconic. They were so bad, but I loved it so much. Not trash.

Being an auntie?

I love being an auntie; it’s the most fun. My niece and nephew are so cute, and they make me laugh so much. It’s so cool to see the world through their eyes. So I love being an auntie.

Is there anything that you just want to throw under the bus right now that is absolute trash?

I think we got to chill with putting avocado on everything. Like, we get it, it’s a healthy fat, it’s nice, but we can calm down.

Originally Appeared on Glamour