Spring has held connotations of rejuvenation, new beginnings, and rebirth. If you’re looking for a TV show to marry with the season, Apple TV’s new comedy-drama series “Shrinking” is a match.
The show follows a Psychologist, Jimmy, who is played by Jason Segal. Jimmy’s wife has recently passed away in a car accident and he has chosen to grieve through dissociation. Partying, drugs, and leaving parental responsibilities of his daughter to the next-door neighbor, Liz, became his norm. However, it’s not until he’s given a new patient from one of his colleagues,Gaby, that his life and grieving habits start to change.
His new patient, Sean, is a 22 year-old war veteran suffering from PTSD. Jimmy finds a connection with Sean and is able to relate to his inability to process a traumatic event. Something in Jimmy switches and he is re-surged with motivation to better his patients and eventually, better his own life. However, his new methods are controversial. His colleague and superior, Paul, played by the stoic Harrison Ford, warns Jimmy that mixing his personal life and his work can lead to bigger problems. The rest of the season follows his attempts to follow unorthodox therapy methods and to reconcile the relationships he neglected during his period of grief.
One thing I find very interesting about this show is that the main character isn’t the only one seeking self-improvement. Almost every character is working to better themselves in some way. The show displays each character’s flaws and mental illnesses throughout the season, and we are able to see them make small strides towards bettering themselves. The show sends an important message that anyone can work towards being a better person and that it should be a continual process.
However, despite a positive message, I think circumstances make it a lot easier for these characters to make time for their mental health. For instance, a life surrounded by psychologists and therapists certainly keeps the discussion of mental health in one’s mind. If these characters weren’t so closely related to one another, I don’t think they would be so open to therapeutic thinking. Another aspect to keep in mind is the socio-economic status of the characters. Majority of them live in upper-middle class Pasadena, California. Unfortunately, setting the backdrop of the show in an affluent town can cause some disconnect from other communities that cannot afford quality healthcare nor afford time to spare on one’s mental health.
That being said, Jimmy’s world and the people around him almost create this utopian world that reveals a society that does focus on mental health. It’s enlightening to see how we could communicate and function effectively if we all had the resources to adequate mental healthcare.
Another aspect the writers of the show do well is marrying comedy and respect for therapy. One of the writers in an interview explains, “I hope it comes across as respectful of the process and respectful of the people going through what they’re going through, but also showing how there is some absurdity and [comedy], no matter what’s going on in our lives, as dark or as hopeless as it may seem. It feels like that’s very true to life. The hope was that it’s part of what makes the show feel grounded and real and authentic. It’s sort of a mirror with respect to that.” This quote rings true for so many patients and therapists. As someone who has gone through therapy themselves, I resonated deeply with finding the hilarity in my anxious thoughts; it makes them less scary and shrinks (no pun intended) them to silly thoughts.
Without giving too much away, I’ll end this review by saying this show is a must-watch. It has good writing, good acting, it is laugh-out-loud funny, wholesome, and deeply important. Mental health still holds a lot of stigma and ignorance. A show that focuses solely on the jobs of psychologists and therapists is quite novice and this show gives ode to their work by also bringing light and humor. The show “Shrinking” can be found on the streaming platform Apple TV.