Review: “Shrinking” takes a page from “Ted Lasso”’s playbook

Review: New Apple TV+ Show Takes a Page From “Ted Lasso”’s Playbook

“Shrinking” follows therapists who help each other through life’s hardships. The show helps to demystify and humanize the mental health profession.
Published: February 13, 2023

If you’re sick of hearing yourself talk about your problems, maybe your therapist is too? In Apple TV plus‘s new comedy-drama, Shrinking, Jason Segal plays therapist Jimmy Laird, a self-proclaimed “psychological vigilante” who uses unethical practices and brutal honesty to help his patients. Peering behind the clinical curtain, Shrinking showcases the importance of processing emotions with humor and heart. The show takes a few episodes to make use of its talented cast, but the ensemble makes it worth watching.   

Segal’s usual tall, goofy persona is masked under a thick fog of depression as Laird sits through a montage of patients, repeating the motions of “what’s on your mind today?” and “how does that make you feel?” He’s in constant rotation of high/hungover/drunk, grieving and struggling to parent his teenage daughter. After giving his patient an ultimatum of leaving her abusive husband or stopping her sessions, Laird decides to take a new approach to his practice. 

At any point, the first episode could have made therapy the joke — the stranger you pay to talk to who silently nods while thinking of what to make for dinner that night — but it never does. From Ted Lasso veterans, Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein, this show taps into the same brand of prevailing genuine goodness but with Laird serving as a more vulnerable protagonist grasping for the optimism Lasso exudes. 

Laird doesn’t carry the show. Gaby (Jessica Williams) and Dr. Paul Rhodes (Harrison Ford) add a much needed presence to the show. Gaby is “sweet, but intrusive,” while Rhodes has that signature Harrison Ford grump. The trio blur the lines between coworkers, friends, and each other’s therapists. Through death, divorce, and disease, they are patient yet tough on each other– traits of good mental health professionals. Sometimes, therapists need therapy too.