“Shrinking” ~ TV TALK with BILL CUSHING

By: Bill Cushing ~ 4-23

‘Shrinking’ is the latest addition to the Apple TV+ family, an anticipated new comedy series from two of the creators behind Ted Lasso, Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein.

The show centers around the lives of three therapists at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center in Pasadena, California. First we have Jimmy (Jason Segel). Jimmy is having a very rough go of it lately. His life has been in a spiral since his wife Tia died a year ago.

He spends so much time in drug and booze filled states that his next-door neighbor Liz (Christa Miller) has essentially taken over the parenting duties of his 17-year-old daughter Alice. Then we have Gabby (Jessica Williams), who was Tia’s best friend, is upbeat and confident and hilarious, but she might not be as cool as she claims to be about her recent divorce. Finally, there’s their legendary, old-school, perpetually crusty boss Paul (Harrison Ford), who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is finding it increasingly difficult to disguise the symptoms.

Jimmy struggles to stay engaged at work as his regular patients recite their various complaints. Exhausted and pushed to the limits of decorum by a woman who’s forever making excuses for her emotionally abusive husband, Jimmy decides to tear down the limitations meant to protect and clarify a therapeutic relationship and lashes out at her and tells her to leave her husband or he is done with her. To his surprise, that approach is very effective.

Paul warns Jimmy that this “psychological vigilante” approach is not good and that he shouldn’t continue using it. Jimmy doesn’t listen and decides to try the same approach with his newest patient, Sean.

Sean (Luke Tennie) is a military vet who keeps getting into violent altercations with strangers. It’s Jimmy and Sean’s story, two broken people trying to help each other, that serves as the centerpiece of ‘Shrinking.’ If that show dwelled too much on Jimmy’s unorthodox therapy approach, it might have grown tiresome. But that’s just one of several intriguing story threads. The writers do an amazing job of jumping back and forth between various characters and their relationships on a level rarely seen in a TV comedy.

Paul has park-bench meetings with Alice and offers her fatherly advice even as he struggles to connect with his own estranged daughter (Lily Rabe). Jimmy reconnects with his best friend Brian (Michael Urie) after shutting him out of his life. At first, Liz and Gabby can’t stand each other, but then they bond over morning hikes and early evening wine. ‘Shrinking’ explores how we bridge the gap between knowing what we need to do to become happier, healthier versions of ourselves and actually doing it.

The cast is terrific. Segel is well suited to play this self-deprecating character that wears his heart on his sleeve. Jessica Williams as Gaby is a scene stealer. She is the breakout star of ‘Shrinking’.’ Gaby is such a funny, strong, and complex character, and Williams plays her perfectly. Ford is an absolute delight. Paul is just the right 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.

The rest of the cast all fit in well and do great jobs. Crista Miller and Ted McGinley are hilarious as Jimmy’s friends and neighbors. Lukita Maxwell and Luke Tennie more than hold their own in this powerhouse cast, giving emotional performances as Sean and Alice.
‘Shrinking’ is a consistently entertaining, funny series that has its heart in the right place. It’s a show that’s definitely worth your time.
‘Shrinking’ has already been renewed for a 2nd season and is available to stream on AppleTV+.

If you have any questions about TV, you can email me at BillsTVTalk@gmail.com. I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future Mailbag column. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @BillsTVTalk and on Facebook at BillsTVTalk for daily up-to-the-minute TV news and discussion. ◊