One of the hard lessons of adulthood is realizing that you might never actually get it together. The messiness that you thrived on in your early 20s can follow you well into your 30s — and Phoebe Robinson’s new Freeform comedy, Everything’s Trash, proves it. Based on the comedian’s collection of essays, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, the show follows a fictional version of Robinson, also named Phoebe, who is a successful but broke podcaster living in Brooklyn. The Phoebe on the show is a bit wilder than the Phoebe who writes, produces, and stars in the series, but make no mistake, Robinson knows what it’s like to be in your 30s, broke, and messy. Even as the co-host of the highly successful podcast 2 Dope Queens (which helped launch both her and Jessica Williams into the world of celebrity), the comedian says she wasn’t making as much money as people might have assumed.
“I have the distance now to talk about what it was like to be broke — to talk about all these different topics — and to do it in a way that’s funny and has a lot of heart,” Robinson tells the Cut. She’s also able to do it in a way that celebrates the chaos of adulthood. The Phoebe in Everything’s Trash is an absolute certified mess, something that causes friction between her and her brother, Jaden, who is entering local politics. (Robinson’s real brother, Phil Robinson, is an Ohio State representative, and she describes the show as “a love letter to my relationship with my brother.”) Here, she talks about her new show, her messiest memories, and her admiration for Michael B. Jordan.
The tagline for Everything’s Trash is “Life begins at messy-something.” What’s the messiest thing you’ve ever done that you would be willing to put on the show?
I made out with three dudes in one night in Vegas — three different dudes. One was at a club, one was at dinner … It was a bachelorette party and we were at the table next to this kid — no, not a kid — I think he was turning 23. I was 33, so we made out, and it was just a fun, silly time.
That’s not that messy.
I mean, that’s a little messy to be out here just being like, “Oh, you’re at dinner? Do you want to make out real quick between appetizers and entrées and then we go back to our tables?” That’s a little messy.
Your character Phoebe loves a good one-night stand. What are some red flags women should look out for when picking up a guy?
If he’s only talking about himself, or has no questions for you, that is a sign that he’s not going to be into you in the bedroom. He will receive and not give. If he feels a little too smooth and charming where there’s such a wall up, there’s no level, there’s nothing for you to grab onto. Bad breath — run away! If a guy’s being a little too, like, “Hey, you kind of owe me for the time that I’ve spent talking to you” — if you get any sort of hint of that, just run.
And any traits that make you give the green light?
If he’s not wearing a turtleneck. Guys who were turtlenecks are fucking exhausting. I can’t. I’ve yet to meet one that’s not a whole thing. I like someone really smart, funny, kind of dorky, because I feel like I’m a little bit dorky too, so that always makes me go green light. If you can make me laugh, that helps a lot. I’m not one of those people that’s like, “I don’t care what you look like as long as you’re funny.” You also have to be cute, let’s be real.
The Everything’s Trash version of Phoebe has a “ho bag” for one-night stands. What are some essentials everyone should have in their ho bags?
You need body wipes, down-there wipes — there’s a brand called the Honey Pot that makes great down-there wipes. You want to have deodorant, of course, a fresh pair of undies — [I like] boy-cut Calvins. You want to have a nice, casual look that you can change into, maybe a little hair wrap so you don’t really have to do your hair all the way. Some mints are always good, a little perfume, and comfortable shoes so that you can do the walk of shame real quick.
You’ve been shooting your shot with Michael B. Jordan; I saw Whoopi Goldberg gave you a stamp of approval —
Listen, it’s gone too far. I’m telling you, like, yes, I think he’s cute, but I don’t actually want to date him. I don’t know how this has gotten so out of hand. People are in my comments like, “You really think he’s going to go from Lori Harvey to you?” I don’t really want to be his girlfriend, it’s just that he’s a hot guy and he seems like he would be very lovely to chat with. I want people to know I’m not really trying to pursue him.
You have a publishing imprint and a production company called Tiny Reparations. What stories are you looking for in a book or production?
So often, especially if you are a Black publisher, people are like, “Oh, we just want to send you a bunch of slavery narratives.” There’s so much more to Blackness than that. Whether you’re a person of color, whether you’re from the queer community, a woman, what have you, we really don’t want to just trade in trauma. Because, while those stories are important, they aren’t the only important stories.
There’s so many rich, vibrant stories out there. I just want to make sure we’re not only telling stories that reflect the really tough parts of life, the really sad parts of life, but also times that are interesting and unique and special and joyful. That’s what we really look for.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.