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.