Tuesday, April 04, 2023

TV Tuesday: Shrinking

My husband does not usually like comedy shows. Our sons and I accepted this sad fact years ago, so the three of us laugh together over That '70's Show or Bob's Burgers. Every once in a while, though, a TV comedy comes along that is so wonderful, so warm and funny, that he enjoys it. Older shows that slipped through the cracks into his funny bone include Modern Family and Life in Pieces (both excellent and highly recommended). After seeing previews and hearing its stars on television interviews, I talked him into trying Shrinking, and it was such a hit with both of us that we watched the first season much too quickly!

Jimmy, played by Jason Segel (of How I Met Your Mother fame), is a therapist who is still deeply mired in his own grief, a year after his wife's death. His boss is Paul, a grumpy older therapist played by the great Harrison Ford. Rounding out the team in their office is Gaby, played by Jessica Williams, who was best friends with Jimmy's wife. Jimmy has a teen daughter named Alice (played by Lukita Maxwell) who really needs her dad right now, but the two seemed each locked in their own grief, living separate lives in the same house. After session upon session of hearing his patients whine and complain, Jimmy finally loses his cool in one session, breaks all the rules of therapy, and urges the woman in front of him to leave her abusive boyfriend. And she says, "OK." Being honest like that is freeing for Jimmy, and it seems to help his patients, so he moves forward and gets way too involved in his patients' lives, crossing the boundaries of the professional relationship, and urging them to take positive action. Despite Paul's admonitions, this outlaw approach seems to work, especially with Sean, played by Luke Tennie, a veteran suffering from PTSD and prone to fits of violence. Adding to this all-star cast is Christa Miller (known for Cougartown) who plays Jimmy and Alice's next-door neighbor, Liz, who crosses boundaries herself and gets more and more involved with their lives.

If that summary, about a therapist whose wife died, sounds depressing, the show is not. It is hilariously, laugh-out-loud funny. It's also heartwarming and uplifting, as Jimmy and Alice gradually heal and begin to move forward again. The show was created by Segel and Brett Goldstein, who plays Roy Kent in the equally funny and warm Ted Lasso, and Bill Lawrence, a producer from Scrubs and Ted Lasso. Then there's that cast! Every one of them is outstanding and fully inhabits their flawed character. Did you know Harrison Ford is really funny? His dry delivery often had us laughing so hard, we had to back up because we missed a line. The writing in this show is phenomenal, and with such top actors to deliver those perfect lines, it's a match made in heaven. Just like when we watch Ted Lasso, every episode left us smiling. We flew through the first season much too quickly and are missing it now, but it's been approved for season two. We can't wait!

Shrinking is an Apple original program, so it's only available on Apple TV.

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