Shrink, review: Sentimental psych-com makes Ted Lasso look subtle

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There’s a lot to like Shrink, the new Apple TV+ comedy from the creators of Ted Lasso, but nothing to love. Ted Lasso, whose third season begins in the coming months, is a culture-clash comedy about a Kansas coach who is airlifted to a British soccer team. The corny, can-do message about people’s essential goodness and the power of self-confidence is made palatable by a bunch of jokes in which Londoners walk up to Ted and call him a w—-r. What they would do.

Shrinking, starring Jason Segel as a broken West Coast psychoanalyst and Harrison Ford as his sassy co-worker, is possibly even cheesetier than Lasso, but in this case the schmaltz isn’t tempered by that salutary dose of cynicism. It all makes for a strange, Lasso-lite concoction: there’s a whole lot of effing and jeffing, no topic is off limits, there are a few witty jokes and some strong performances, but ultimately it lacks impact. If the eternal psychiatrist’s question is “How does that make you feel?”, with Shrinking, the answer is “not much.”

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Shrink begins with the premise that Segel’s Jimmy Laird has given up on life following the untimely death of his wife. He doesn’t pay much attention to his daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell), he drinks too much and at work he’s decided to just tell his clients the grim, obvious truth about their lives, rather than dress it up in the kind of pleasant behavioral chatter. that they want to hear. For example, he suddenly orders an old client to leave her partner immediately, as he is clearly a controlling error. And wouldn’t you know it, the psychological vigilante approach works, at least in the beginning.

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Fans of After Life will have seen the similarity in the setup, but where that series at least had the courage to stick to Ricky Gervais’ over-the-top philosophizing (if only we could all just be honest with each other!), Shrinking definitely never really what it’s about.

Ford is excellent as Jimmy’s older work partner Paul, a sarcastic old grump with Parkinson’s and many problems of his own to unravel. Ford could easily have been the main character of the series: most of the best scenes see Ford and Segel happily sparring, but too often they are undermined by yet another sentimental set piece as the MOR rock music swells behind a montage of people doing. some healing and learning.

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Ironically, if Ted Lasso himself had sat down to write a comedy, it might have turned out like this. All it takes is a voice in the writers’ room to occasionally shout “bollocks” when the cheese overwhelms.

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