Apple TV+ Wins Again With “Shrinking”


Ava Soleibe, Staff Writer

Apple TV+ has been creating a slew of content that appeals to the masses. Probably prior to a Ted Lasso binge, I happened upon an ad for “Shrinking.” Initially it snared my attention because “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)” by Kid Cudi faded in, and then the words “Sometimes you have to have a breakdown to have a breakthrough” dominated the screen.

It had a major hold on me.

The show aired Jan. 27. Co-created by Brett Goldstein and studded with a cast consisting of names like Jason Segel, Harrison Ford, and Heidi Gardner, I anticipated great things – and was not disappointed.

In the cold-open first scenes, we see broken Jimmy Laird stumbling into a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center. Immediately one can assume this lost middle-aged man is teeing up for a session as a patient, but the show pulls a 180 as Jimmy sits in the position of the therapist. Confusion leaked across my brain as Jimmy sat with a variety of patients, detailing their unique situations, but all arriving at the same conclusion: they are stuck. Eventually, Jimmy snaps and chastises a patient for allowing her toxic husband to tread over her repeatedly and begs the patient to leave him. Thus begins a noble crusade of diverse approaches to therapy.

Jimmy’s character is gently awkward; he tells himself to be brave while taking a hot pizza out of the oven, navigates a complex relationship with his teenage daughter Alice after the passing of her mom, and frequently says things in an Irish-Kermit the Frog hybrid accent. He sets out in his classic blue Bronco, altering the lives of his patients by joining and supporting them on drastic ventures (cage matches, moving countries, confronting that one person who is always making small talk) basing it all on the belief that “[he] can really make a difference if [he gets his] hands a little dirty.” The theme that penetrates your psyche is that helping other people helps us too. There is hope to be derived from witnessing healing.

Jimmy explores both reconnection and new connection as he builds up friendships that were forgotten in his sea of grief and fosters interpersonal relationships through these erratic sessions. “Shrinking” examines how the people who surround us are instrumental in keeping us afloat.

The humor is nuanced and intergenerational. The characters are pleasantly flawed. But it was the music that made my jaw drop. Some of my favorite songs like “Oxford Comma” and “This Life” by Vampire Weekend were perfectly tailored to scenes. However, the placement of “I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers destroyed me. Jimmy witnesses Alice bawling in her room to the stunning, mournful song after she is advised to put on the saddest song she knows and grieve for fifteen minutes. Upon trying the same coping mechanism, Jimmy cues up “I Know the End,” spurring an intense cry session on his bike ride, screaming “F-ck you Pheobe Bridgers,” and connecting with his daughter in this strange, incredible way.

Three episodes are out now, and the fourth comes Feb. 10. It is about time therapy was allowed this positive space in the media, but “Shrinking” was worth the wait.