Review: Jason Segel, Harrison Ford shine in therapist comedy ‘Shrinking’ on Apple TV+

WTOP's Jason Fraley reviews 'Shrinking' on Apple TV +

Are you looking for a great new comedy to watch while waiting for “Ted Lasso” to return?

Harrison Ford and Jason Segal star in "Shrinking." (Apple TV+)(Courtesy Apple TV+)

The Apple TV+ folks have done it again with “Shrinking,” which drops episode seven on Friday.

When I first heard the title, I thought it was a “Seinfeld” reference like George Costanza shouting, “I was in the pool!” Turns out, it’s not “shrinkage,” it’s “Shrinking,” as in going to see a therapist “shrink” like Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos,” only funnier and without the whacks.

The story follows a widowed therapist, Jimmy Laird, played by Jason Segel, grieving the death of his wife and raising a teenage daughter. With nothing left to lose, he shatters the standard ethical barriers between doctor and patient by telling them what he really thinks and giving them outside-the-box advice on how to fix their own lives, even though he still hasn’t fixed his.

Segel might be the most underrated comedy force of the past 15 years, with “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008), “I Love You, Man” (2009) and “The Five-Year Engagement” (2012). His fans will love his maturing take here, grieving his wife like Ricky Gervais in “After Life,” while raising a teenage daughter Alice, played by Lukita Maxwell, and giving stunning advice to his patients.

While we already knew Segel’s comedic chops, the dry humor of Harrison Ford is a revelation as Jimmy’s boss, Dr. Paul Rhoades. When Ford says, “Get out of here,” Segal replies, “This is my office,” to which Ford quips, “That took you longer than it should’ve.” We’ve seen flashes of humor in Han Solo and Indiana Jones, but who knew that Richard Kimball or Jack Ryan was this funny?

The ensemble cast around them is equally fantastic, from Jessica Williams (“The Daily Show”) as fellow therapist Gabby with a giant water bottle, to Luke Tennie (“Players”) as Jimmy’s patient Sean dealing with anger management from military PTSD. His one friend is Jimmy’s daughter Alice, both are cynical about the world.

In Jimmy’s absence, Alice has practically been raised by her neighbor Liz, warmly played by Christa Miller (“The Drew Carey Show”), who’s always ready with a sarcastic quip and a glass of wine. Her goofy husband Derek is played by Ted McGinley (“Married … with Children”), who greets a neighbor in the driveway for an exchange that is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Still, the show-stealer is Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”), who visited WTOP in 2018. It’s great seeing Urie’s star rise from his Netflix holiday flick “Single All the Way” to his role as Jimmy’s rambunctious lawyer Brian, who pulls a “Banshees of Inisherin” to ask why Jimmy is avoiding his toxic positivity, while kicking the can on proposing to boyfriend Charlie, played by Devin Kawaoka.

There’s a reason folks are comparing it to “Ted Lasso,” whose creator Bill Lawrence and actor Brett Goldstein (Roy Kent) co-created “Shrinking” alongside Segal. That’s a trio of hilarity as the first six episodes are consistently funny with plenty of pathos for complex characters. Realizing that episode seven dropped Friday is like a present arriving at the end of every week.

When “Ted Lasso” returns for season three on March 15, we’ll have two weeks of overlap where we can watch “Ted Lasso” on Wednesdays and “Shrinking” on Fridays. The latter finishes its 10-episode first season on March 24, after which we’ll shift to Coach Ted to carry us into the spring.

Thank you Apple TV+ for doing the damned thing and making us laugh, cry and care.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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