You feel the urge to laugh wither and die with each passing minute Shrinka new half-hour Apple TV+ series from Jason Segel, Bill Lawrence and Ted Lasso‘s Brett Goldstein.
The series, which premieres January 27, centers on a grieving therapist who turns his life and practice upside down by letting patients know exactly how he feels, then getting deeply involved in their issues. With grating twists from its over-the-top cast, scripts that are like nails on a blackboard, and Harrison Ford’s participation in a role and project that’s below him, it’s the nadir of “high concept” comedy.
When we first meet Jimmy (Segel) he is partying in his pool at 3am with drugs, booze and a few prostitutes. This wakes up his neighbor Liz (Christa Miller), who is not only Jimmy’s nosy friend, but also a surrogate mother to his teenage daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell), who has become estranged from her father in the wake of her recent car accident. biological mother. .
Jimmy and Alice are both a mess, and one day at work, Jimmy’s misery, anger and frustration finally come to a boil. Unable to listen to his clients moan and whine about dilemmas he believes they could solve if they followed his advice, the therapist decides to tell it like it is to battered wife Grace (Heidi Gardner), who he crosses an invisible professional and ethical boundary. that is considered sacred by Jimmy’s mentor Paul (Ford).
Jimmy does exactly what he shouldn’t, but he is encouraged to keep doing it when Grace listens to him and abandons her abusive husband for a supposedly happier life. When his close colleague Gabby (Jessica Williams) gives him a new patient named Sean (Luke Tennie), an Afghanistan war veteran with serious anger management issues, Jimmy responds by having the man train his anger at an MMA gym. Then – in one of a myriad of incredible plot twists designed to amp up the insanity of the proceedings – Jimmy invites Sean to move in with him.
Alice agrees to this because she can hardly be bothered by her father and also because she finds Sean attractive. Sean, meanwhile, agrees because, as embodied by Tennie and written by Goldstein, Lawrence, and Segel, he is a personality-free narrative device festooned with clichéd hang-ups.
Jimmy and Alice are the main focus of Maudlin Shrink, but they are not the only ones dealing with loss and loneliness. Beset by discontent out of the blue, Liz copes by clinging to Alice and putting up with her cheerfully docile husband Derek (Ted McGinley). Gabby is going through a divorce and struggling with a strangely dampened libido. Paul learns how to cope with his Parkinson’s disease and reconnects with his adult daughter Meg (Lily Rabe), whom he barely raised and whose son he barely knows. And Jimmy’s best friend Brian (Michael Urie), his best friend, despite constantly running around proclaiming “Everything is going my way!”, is unable to propose to his old partner due to deep-seated fears of risk-taking and commitment.
There isn’t a stable or happy person in the bunch, nor an original one: Brian is the flamboyant gay BFF, Gabby is the sassy friend who jokes a lot about race and is destined to become Jimmy’s love interest, and Paul is the grouchy elder statesman who grumbles about Jimmy’s behaviour, but deep down can’t stop caring about him and Alice.
Paul also gets high on gummies in a mid-season episode, which is about as inventive as Shrink becomes as it runs towards a seemingly inevitable conclusion in which everyone has revelations about the benefits and pitfalls of escaping self-imposed exile and relating to loved ones. The show’s writing is so blunt and straightforward that its life lessons are staggeringly obvious even before they’re dished out.
At the center of this merry maelstrom is Jimmy, a frantic and grumpy disaster who transforms Segel into the most insufferable protagonist on TV. Although he pretends to be interested in others, every action of Jimmy is about himself, and the fact that Shrink will no doubt make him realize that by the end of the season this will only make him more annoying.
Segel never stops joking manically as his protagonist spirals further and further out of control, his performance as tense as the series bursts out with hilarity. Whether he’s throwing tantrums at Liz, talking inappropriately to Alice about her sex life, or giving Sean bad advice and then lying to Paul about it, he’s a jerk, an idiot, and a lousy doctor all at once, and the show’s attempt to make that cute and okay – because, you see, it’s a by-product of the inner pain he can’t handle – is the major, if far from the only, failure.
ShrinkThe players of ‘s are all cut from the same fake leather, so vicious and sarcastic, yet also wounded and genuinely sensitive, it’s impossible to take them or their supply problems seriously. In a peddling dramedy of the most strident kind, it lurches from one wacky incident to the next, most of which are triggered by Jimmy’s reckless desire to help others by interfering in their affairs – an approach that will no doubt lead to his patients healed him.
Heck, everyone is going to heal everyone through love, understanding, and some good-natured ribbing by the conclusion of this affair. Consequently, it’s a heavy price to pay to put up with Jimmy and company as they clash and reconcile, mock and comfort, for predictable feel-good revelations and resolutions.
Segel, Williams and Miller put a figurative punctuation mark on every line and scene and never elicit moans. Ford, on the other hand, only makes one sad – not because his turn is particularly moving (he does his best with a broad, two-dimensional character), but because it’s depressing to see him stuck with substandard material that needs him has to literally growl in displeasure and sing along enthusiastically to Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”.
Even when the legendary actor is brought down by bland or clumsy screenplays (or both!), he refuses to rob unnecessarily, proving to be the only actor to emerge relatively unscathed. Still, Ford is better than Shrinkand so are most of the other comedies currently on the air.
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