Shrinking Review: Jason Segel's Apple TV+ Comedy Is Engaging … – Screen Rant

Shrinking recognizes the importance of human connection and handles the varying degrees of loss with genuine warmth, charm, and wit.  
Grief and therapy go hand-in-hand in Apple TV+’s latest series, Shrinking. Starring How I Met Your Mother’s Jason Segel, the series combines the two in a gentle, funny, and lighthearted manner that rewards audiences with genuine character growth and multidimensional explorations of its themes. The cast has a lot of chemistry and, above all else, Shrinking recognizes the importance of human connection and handles the varying degrees of loss with genuine warmth, charm, and wit.
Jimmy Johns (Segel) is a widowed father and therapist whose wife, Tia (Lilan Browden), died a year prior to the start of the series. Jimmy is a mess; he’s constantly drinking, taking drugs, and sleeping with women, often forgetting about his responsibilities as a parent, and straining his relationship with teenage daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell). No longer feeling fulfilled and still grieving, Jimmy decides to get real with his patients, telling them exactly what he thinks and what to do about their problems. Of course, this lands him in hot water with his friend and colleague Paul (Harrison Ford), but Jimmy is willing to take the risk.
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Shrinking is a celebration of the multitude of relationships that keep people going — be they familial or romantic, friendship or parental, the Apple TV+ series explores the layers of such dynamics and how crucial they are. Jimmy is floundering after the death of his wife, but it’s his relationships with those closest to him, including a wonderful Jessica Williams as Jimmy’s friend and colleague Gabby, that help him get through it, as well as rediscovering a sense of purpose in his life. What the series does best is showcase how, though people can seek help from others, it isn’t until they are ready and willing to receive help that their lives can genuinely change.
The series isn’t the first to handle grief, but its balance of drama and humor, along with its witty and sharp dialogue, makes it an engaging watch. Each character has a quirk, but Shrinking explores them beyond the surface as they navigate their own tangled, meaningful relationships with one another and other people. There are multiple layers here, and no character is relegated to one kind of relationship with others. As season 1 goes on, the character growth and plot development becomes all the more delightful.
What makes Shrinking a standout is its sincerity and lightheartedness; it’s easy to tell that creators Brett Goldstein, Bill Lawrence, and Segel want to maintain an acerbic sense of humor while thoughtfully fleshing out these characters as much as possible. The grieving process, and the emotional connections between people aren’t consistently somber. The series’ writing team wonderfully conveys the ups and downs of their characters’ lives, the complicated nature of certain relationships, and how things can unexpectedly change over time.
The dead wife trope is only slightly subverted, though, with Tia primarily being the catalyst for Jimmy and Alice’s grief and strained relationship. The series attempts to give Tia more emotional depth, though, highlighting her happiness along with her anger. The bare minimum is done in that regard, and Tia is not merely a smiling, dream-like memory for Jimmy to remember when the time calls for it. Grief is more complicated than that, and Shrinking is content to explore its ins and outs more deeply. Crucially, Shrinking thoughtfully reminds viewers that death and grief don’t erase any of the complicated elements of someone’s relationship, no matter how much love there was between two people.
Shrinking is as heartfelt as it is funny, with winning performances from the cast. The series doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does tackle difficult subjects with gentleness and warmth, all without losing any of its heart. It’s a solid freshman outing, and one that is well worth checking out.
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Shrinking premieres on Apple TV+ Friday, January 27, with the first two episodes. The remaining episodes will be released weekly every Friday.
Mae Abdulbaki is a movie reviews editor with Screen Rant. She previously wrote about a variety of movies and TV shows for Inverse, CinemaBlend, Pajiba, and The Young Folks, where she wrote reviews, features, news pieces. Her other work can be found at The Mary Sue, Film School Rejects, UPROXX, Heroic Hollywood, Looper, The List, and Bam Smack Pow, among others. Mae has also appeared on television segments, podcasts, and panels to discuss all things entertainment.


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