Shrinking Review: New Apple TV+ Series Deftly Explores The Intersection of Grief and Humor

The post Shrinking Review: New Apple TV+ Series Deftly Explores The Intersection of Grief and Humor appeared first on Consequence.

The Pitch: When life hits hard, who provides our therapists with some much-needed therapy? For the somewhat codependent team of therapists in Shrinking, the new series on Apple TV+, the answer is each other.

Shrinking was created by Ted Lasso favorites Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein (Roy Kent himself) alongside Jason Segel, who stars as grieving therapist Jimmy Laird. Jimmy is in crisis, coming out of a severe depressive spiral following the sudden loss of his wife, Tia. He’s been neglecting his teenage daughter; he’s letting his personal life affect his work at a small clinic, where the three therapists are all very intertwined in each other’s lives — Gabby (a stellar Jessica Williams) was Tia’s best friend, and is Alice’s godmother. And Harrison Ford just about steals the show as Paul, perfectly cast as a lovable crank who also acts as Jimmy’s mentor.

Viewers first meet Jimmy at a particularly low point which demands intervention from his controlling, nosy, but ultimately lovable neighbor Liz (Christa Miller, the perfect balance of ice and warmth). Liz is typically more interested in other people’s affairs, particularly those related to Jimmy and his daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell), while putting up with her dopey husband (a game Ted McGinley) only as much as is absolutely necessary.

The Diagnosis: While Shrinking doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s overtly catering to Ted Lasso fans, there are certainly enough similarities to be found that fans of the mustached football coach will probably have a great time with Jimmy and co. in Pasadena, too. There’s the element of cultivating deep, long-lasting friendships that extend beyond the workplace, for one; despite his attempt at a tough exterior, Paul is deeply invested in Jimmy and Gabby as people. He attempts to maintain an air of mystery — his “fortress of solitude,” as he prefers to call it — but these people all care too much about each other for that wall to last.

Jimmy’s world is filled out with characters that demand our attention and empathy — Michael Urie is irresistibly delightful as Brian, Jimmy’s somewhat estranged best friend hoping to work his way back into his life, and there are some great sequences between Jimmy and his patients. (One particularly memorable role is executed perfectly by SNL scene-stealer Heidi Gardner.)

As the series begins, Jimmy’s grief has formed him into a bit of a loose cannon, and he begins throwing out the rule book in sessions, veering into unprofessional territory with his unorthodox techniques and honesty driven by his personal exhaustion. Newcomer Luke Tennie is another highlight as Sean, an Army veteran at a standstill with his PTSD who Jimmy takes under his wing to a point that far exceeds typical doctor-patient boundaries.

harrison ford shrinking
harrison ford shrinking

Shrinking (Apple TV+)

That’s Our Time: Harrison Ford has been a staple of pop culture for decades, and a filmography so heavily rooted in franchise mainstays like Indiana Jones or Star Wars can make it a bit easy to forget that Ford is also a damn good actor. Paul is a perfect character for this stage of Ford’s career and Shrinking allows him to do some really terrific work — it’s the kind of role that allows for heartfelt moments alongside comedic sequences (with a major highlight on that front in Episode 6 in particular).

Similarly, Jason Segel may be most recognizable from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and How I Met Your Mother, and while Shrinking certainly retains plenty of room for his trademark goofy onscreen persona, Jimmy also requires a certain emotional depth to keep the audience rooting for him. Jimmy’s struggle to handle the rollercoaster of raising a teenage daughter in the wake of losing his wife is one of the emotional cores in the show, and his rapport with Lukita Maxwell is deeply believable.

The Verdict: While the full season only clocks in at 10 episodes, Shrinking feels like a cozy Saturday afternoon series of a bygone era — one where bingeing was the result of stumbling upon a show airing in a marathon, and not the be-all, end-all desired outcome from a streaming service. It’s a heartfelt series where the stakes are high but never overwhelming, tiptoeing to the cliff’s edge of cheesy or trite territory but always managing to hold back.

Instead, these characters and their world all feel deeply believable and deeply human. Grief is a non-linear journey, and a messy one that often involves everyone in the inner circle of a person’s life, and Shrinking embraces the messiness of interpersonal relationships in that aspect. While some problems can’t be wrapped up in 45 minutes, some really great stories can be told in 30.

Where to WatchShrinking premieres on Apple TV+ this Friday, January 27th.


Shrinking Review: New Apple TV+ Series Deftly Explores The Intersection of Grief and Humor
Mary Siroky

Popular Posts

Subscribe to Consequence’s email digest and get the latest breaking news in music, film, and television, tour updates, access to exclusive giveaways, and more straight to your inbox.