Chris Connor reviews Apple TV+’s Shrinking…
Ted Lasso has been quite the sensation for Apple TV+ with its first 2 seasons earning widespread acclaim. The latest from Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein, along with Jason Segel, is Shrinking, which sees Segel as Jimmy, a therapist struggling a year on from the death of his wife, as it spills into both his personal and professional life. He is distanced from his teenage daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) and irritating his boss Paul (Harrison Ford).
The casting of Ford in a TV comedy, may raise some eyebrows and signals an interesting late point in his storied career alongside Yellowstone prequel 1923. In truth he is a perfect fit for this series as grouchy Paul, who is a fleeting part in the opening episode but becomes more integral later on; afflicted by Parkinson’s, Paul looks to work out the best course of action to help Jimmy recover himself and stop being too pushy with his patients. Ford has always had an aptitude for comedy especially in Star Wars and Indiana Jones but it is surprising how naturally he fits the tone of this series, with his more deadpan, dry delivery contrasting the more eccentric nature of Segel.
The central premise of Shrinking is not dissimilar from Ricky Gervais’ Afterlife, seeing a man bereft by the loss of his wife and behaving uncontrollably, but there is a heart and warmth to Shrinking and the approach to its subject matter stops the comparison going any further. It may seem odd to approach such a subject as a comedy but Segel still lets us feel his pain and sadness and desire to do better, particularly when it comes to Alice’s welfare; neighbour Liz has been doing much of the parenting for the past year and Jimmy feels this has forced a wedge between him and his daughter.
The show ultimately will put a smile on your face, and while not all the quips land in equal measure, Shrinking has its heart in the right place showing the power of friendship and family and how we can all do a bit better. The cast are all on terrific form with Harrison Ford delivering some of his best work in recent years while Segel is a naturally likable lead, selling the frustration, childishness and desire to do better all going through Jimmy’s head. Jessica William’s Gaby, another therapist wonderfully offsets Segel and Ford, bringing a sense of fun and carefree attitude whenever she’s on screen but never too irritating.
The unorthodox approaches to therapy are fun and not where you might expect the show to go: taking Afghanistan vet to boxing sessions to let out his pent-up angst or telling a frustrated wife to leave her husband which naturally ends disastrously when he finds out. While played often for laughs Shrinking is still an earnest, tender approach to what it means to tackle grief and the struggles associated with it. It’s another winning series for Apple TV+ and will likely fill the void until the upcoming third season of Ted Lasso.