Shrinking, starring Harrison Ford and Steven Segal, is the new Apple TV+ comedy which is being billed as sharing the same DNA as Apple’s mega-hit Ted Lasso, largely because it shares the same creative team, Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence.
It is a charmingly sweet sitcom and has feel-good humor as comforting as one of Ted’s biscuits. But that’s where the comparison ends.
Jimmy, played by Jason Segal, is a grieving therapist, one year on from his wife dying, who is sick of hearing his patients complaining and not changing their lives, so he embarks on some less than ethical practices to help them. Harrison Ford, who plays the more experienced therapist and friend, becomes the straight man to the comedic team, which also includes Gaby, played by Jessica Williams, another therapist.
But Shrinking does not have the same depth as Lasso. Lasso tackled the subject of mental health and therapy in its second season with such care and sensitivity that the writers received messages daily from people thanking them for opening their eyes to what it means to go to therapy, and how it had helped them in their lives. Real life therapists also applauded the writers for their raw and honest portrayal of mental health issues.
Shrinking, on the other hand, is unlikely to be receiving any such applause. It plays for gags in the obvious way you’d expect a sit com to. Jimmy’s patients struggle with life in the same way that most of us do, and the writer’s use that as fertile ground. Lasso’s finesse was that it managed to pull off humour within the boundaries of a sensitive subject without cheapening the subject matter.
Ted Lasso was also a phenomenally relatable character with a depth to him that emerged slowly. Ted’s emotional reveal that his father committed suicide did not arrive until season two, kicking us with a gut-punch that hurt all the more because by then, we knew and loved him so well. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s reveal that his wife died arrives in the first episode, making it so on-the-nose obvious that we all know where the show’s resolution is heading from the start.
Shrinking is a sweet, watchable comedy, uplifting in its own way, with its own touching moments, particularly well done by Jimmy’s teenage daughter, Alice, played by Lukita Maxwell. The problem is Shrinking is not Ted Lasso and any comparison to Apple TV+’s behemoth hit was always going to do it a disservice.
Shrinking is available to stream on Apple TV+.