We review the new AppleTV+ series Shrinking from creators Bill Lawrence, Jason Segel and Brett Goldstein, starring Segel and Harrison Ford.

Reason: Jimmy is a grieving therapist who breaks the rules and tells his clients exactly what he means. Ignoring his training and ethics, he finds himself making huge, tumultuous changes in people’s lives…including his own.

Review: Every now and then a series immediately clicks with the audience. The latest example of this is the AppleTV+ series Ted Lasso which has united audiences across the globe with a heartfelt and hilarious look at a broken character who strives for positivity and success against the odds. It’s no coincidence that the latest AppleTV+ lineup is bound to unite audiences and critics, shrinks, comes from Ted Lasso writers and executive producers Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence. Along with Jason Segel and an ensemble cast packed with brilliant performances, Shrinks is my favorite series of 2023, thanks to a combination of realistic depictions of grief, therapy and parenting, while still delivering a funny, heartfelt and entertaining story.

Jason Segel plays Jimmy Laird, a psychiatrist who tragically lost his wife, Tia (Lilan Bowden), and has been mired in grief ever since. When we first meet Jimmy, he’s hanging out with young girls, taking drugs late into the night, and shirking his responsibilities to his teenage daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell). Neighbor Liz (Christa Miller) has served as a surrogate mother for Alice, while Jimmy tries to make ends meet at home while still supporting his patients. One day, Jimmy snaps and tells his patients blunt advice that gives him a glimmer of hope, much to the chagrin of his friend and colleague Gaby (Jessica Williams) and his mentor Paul (Harrison Ford). When Jimmy begins treating veteran Sean (Luke Tennie), his life begins to change, but not always in the ways he expects.

Similar to Ricky Gervais’ emotional comedy about death and grief, After life, shrinks does not wallow in grief over the loss. Instead, it uses it as an opportunity for rebirth and renewal. In the first section of Shrinks, after we meet all of the main cast members, Jimmy’s new approach seems to be working and the episode is headed for a happy, happy ending. Most series would have gone that way and I expected Shrinking to go there too. Instead, Lawrence, Goldstein, and Segel prove they’re better writers than that, throwing in a literal sucker at the end that they use in various ways throughout the series. By anchoring Shrinking in a fun story and anchoring it with the idea that not all endings are happy, perfect endings, they embrace the imperfections in all of us, making this series even stronger.

The entire cast here is exceptional, especially Jessica Williams and Michael Urie as Jimmy’s closest friends. Williams has long been a great comedian and actress, but she gets to exercise her talents in a hilarious role here. Urie had me reeling from his first scene as the lawyer who always makes things go his way and I loved every moment he was on screen. Christa Miller is fantastic as always, elevating what could have been a secondary character into a vital primary player in each episode. Newcomers Luke Tennie and Lukita Maxwell showcase budding talent and are sure to be in demand after this series debuts. The real highlight, though, is Harrison Ford. Ford has become synonymous with his big screen roles, but thrives in this role as Jimmy’s mentor who doesn’t take his shit. Ford also portrays a man dealing with a Parkinson’s diagnosis with dignity and a good sense of humor. So many of Ford’s lines made me laugh that I was unprepared to hear him sing. Trust me; it’s worth watching this series for that scene alone.

Jason Segel has long been an underrated actor despite showing his range in comedies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), musicals (The Muppets), and drama (Our friend). His latest AMC series Shipments from other locations was very underrated, but he brings all his skills as a writer and actor to their best use here. Bill Lawrence has long balanced drama and comedy dating back to his days on Scrubs, but working with Segel and Brett Goldstein has provided an excellent insight into the health benefits of therapy. With actual psychiatric experts on set, including Phil Stutz (the subject of Jonah Hill’s excellent Netflix documentary Stutz), Shrinking is deeply supportive of the therapy process and the distinct way it works for unique patients. The series also shows that the doctors themselves are not always perfect beings and need support, which makes this series feel very balanced and realistic and resonates even more than it otherwise would have.

Shrinks is a damn near perfect show that I couldn’t get enough of. It’s funny where it needs to be funny and dramatic in all the right places. The entire cast is exceptional and I felt emotionally invested in every episode. Shrinking is exactly the type of show we need in this day and age, full of quotable lines, great supporting actors, and one of Harrison Ford’s best performances ever. It’s very different from Ted Lasso, but hits the same notes differently. I doubt anyone will finish this series and not have good things to say about it. If I have a problem with Shrinking, it’s that there wasn’t enough of it. I hope this show clicks and runs for multiple seasons so we can continue to see these characters grow and make us cry a little but laugh even more.

Shrinks premiered on January 27 on AppleTV+.


Related Posts