Shrinking: therapy on the couch

Those who have already done therapy that follows the Freudian line can identify with how in many moments we wanted to know what the analyst is thinking… but he keeps quiet. The principle of analysis is not one of direct intervention, as the path to change lies with the person himself, who is subtly guided until he understands where his triggers are and how he can have control over his emotions and reactions. A layman’s summary, sure, but a basic overview of the process. In Shrinking, the new Apple TV Plus series, we have a therapist in a personal crisis who kicks the bucket and decides to “innovate” his treatment method. Something like a Jerry Maguire-like, when he starts a more personal treatment with each of his patients… Of course, this is just the beginning of drama and laughter.

The series is from the same actors and popular content creators as Scrubs and Ted Lasso. That’s right, Bill Lawrence from Scrubs and Ted Lasso, as well as Brett Goldstein, who in addition to being a screenwriter also plays Roy Kent in Ted Lasso, are the creators of Shriking, along with actor and series star Jason Segel. The trio developed this simple concept that relies 100% on Jason’s charisma and has sparked much debate about the lack of ethics around the psychiatric process. After all, Jimmy Laird (Jason Segel), is a widower who is very badly processing the grief of losing his wife, moving away from his teenage daughter, and being disillusioned with the profession he chose. In an outburst, he goes against everything a good professional has to do, convincing himself that he will achieve more effective and faster results. Really?

Of course, in fiction suggestion is allowed and it has amusing twists and turns, but it is far from harmless. Would it be a criticism of the traditional line of psychiatry or just an idea that does not consider the consequences? Especially because, not even what they show as part of the therapy practice or even the therapist is close to being correct. The principle is that professionals know exactly what their patients should do, but, ethically, they don’t say it. Those on the couch think so, but it’s not quite true.

Jimmy’s friend and boss, Dr. Phil Rhodes (Harrison Ford) is also adept at some deviations (the sessions with Jimmy’s daughter are an example of unethical behavior), and he does not denounce Jimmy as soon as he discovers the infraction. If he did it would end the series or make it a whole different thing, but still, professionals are criticizing Shrinking‘s creative “freedom”. After all, the opinion restriction is because therapists are in a position of influence over their patients, who are generally more vulnerable.

Having clarified the “weak point” of the series, let’s go to the content itself. Shrinking plays with two puns, that of “shrinking” and thus “analyzing” (in English the psychiatrist is called “shrink”), but it is not exactly original in its characters. After Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we see Jason Segel repeating the concept of a man with problems moving on with his life and Harrison Ford is already for the thousandth time repeating his famous bad-tempered behind-the-scenes persona on screen. But it works. We laugh, we cheer, and get involved. Far from the romantic and addictive positivity of Ted Lasso (who is coming back!!!), but, if it depends on the first three episodes, it could be a hit. Worth checking out!


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