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To acquire wisdom, one must observe

If you love ‘Ted Lasso,’ watch ‘Shrinking’

It is shocking that “Shrinking” has not yet received the acclaim of its sister show, “Ted Lasso.” Unless you are an avid user of Apple TV+, you have likely never seen the sitcom-style dramedy which stars Jason Segel and Harrison Ford, but I cannot recommend it higher. 

“Shrinking” follows Jimmy (Jason Segel), a terrible, but successful, therapist who recently lost his wife in a car crash, and the various other people in his life. These consist of his coworkers, his daughter, his neighbors, his patient and his best friend. The characters are where most viewers who do not fall in love with the show will likely take issue. 

While “Shrinking” bears many similar qualities to “Ted Lasso,” its general tone and central arcs are more serious. “Shrinking” deals closely with grief, PTSD, chronic illness, addiction and other common topics one deals with in therapy. So the show’s characters, who would fit neatly in the “Ted Lasso” world, occasionally, but not always, fail to live up to the realism of the problems posed. While this initially bothered me, especially in regards to Jimmy who receives the “Gilmore Girls” treatment of being the most annoying character with many unforgivable shortcomings but everyone in the show still loves him, my fondness for the characters allowed a more generous suspension of disbelief. 

The writing on “Shrinking” is incredible, and only becomes more so as the show continues. Every episode of “Shrinking” is laugh-out-loud funny, with each character bringing their own sense of humor to the show, this is where it most parallels “Ted Lasso.” No character is just a nagging wife or an irredeemable villain, everyone gets to be multi-faceted and everyone provides some of the comic relief. The show also handles certain tragic moments expertly, even when they are occasionally played lighter than they would be in real life. Not every topic may be given the same gravity, but plot points that span the entire season like Jimmy and his daughter’s coping with grief, or Paul’s (Harrison Ford) journey to reconnect with his daughter are emotional and grounded. 

A show about therapy is a difficult concept to do well and to sell to a wide audience. Therapy is a broad and constantly changing field that the majority of Americans still do not understand, trust or respect. This show does not do therapy perfectly. Jimmy’s whole character relies on him breaking rules that could and should result in his therapist license being revoked. The ways Jimmy attempts to support a character with OCD and another in an abusive relationship are blatantly horrible and borderline disrespectful to people in those situations. But the show is, for the most part, aware of this. The advice Jimmy provides to his patients is more about him finding a new way to live his life than it is about helping them. I cannot express enough how unpleasant Jimmy is. The goal of “Shrinking,” as it relates to therapy, is more about expressing the importance of talking out your emotions than it is about showing the best practices for the field.

“Shrinking” is perfectly heartwarming. I long to enjoy gritty HBO dramas, but they will never provide me the joy and relief I experience when watching a show like this one. Things may be going wrong, characters could be fighting, dark subplots may be front and center but you always know things are going to turn out fine. Better than fine, things are going to be great and you are going to get goosebumps because of how wholesome and satisfying that concluding scene is. It is not a feeling that everyone likes, many prefer ambiguity in their shows or find unfiltered optimism cheesy or boring, but I love it and because of that, and the other reasons stated, I love this show.

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