Like many of you, I've been waiting about a year and five months for Ted Lasso season 3. Sure, I'm not in love with the threat of Ted and Rebecca becoming romantically involved (did nobody learn from 30 Rock?), but I'm incredibly eager for the return of Coach Lasso and AFC Richmond. And that's why I'm here today to point any who share my interest in the direction of one of Apple TV Plus' latest shows: Shrinking — which feels like more than a suitable stand-in.
A new series that's somewhere in between comedy and drama, Shrinking stars Jason Segel as Jimmy, a therapist whose grief over his wife's passing has dragged him down for longer than anyone around him is OK with. And right when he can barely take much more, he decides to break the cardinal rules of his industry. Not only is he getting arguably too-honest with clients, but he's also getting involved in their lives (and, on one occasion, in trouble with an angry spouse).
The connections between Shrinking and Ted Lasso may not be hyper-apparent to those who don't look beyond the stars on the marquee. Once you do, though, you'll notice two familiar names from Ted Lasso: showrunner Bill Lawrence and Roy Kent himself, Brett Goldstein. Both write and executive produce for the series, as does Segel. And were that not enough to make you tune in? Allow me to explain why I love Shrinking, and why it's one of the best Apple TV Plus shows.
A workplace comedy with heart
Yes, without the world of soccer / futbol / football existing, Ted Lasso would need to be drastically rewritten. But when you drill down to its core skeleton, Jason Sudeikis' series is a workplace comedy about broken people trying to make things work. The mental health of all involved is as paramount as getting out of relegation and chasing a Premier League championship win.
Shrinking, a simpler show, is all about an office of therapists in California, and the people around them. And while Jimmy's grief bogs him down, he's not the only one in trouble. His colleague Gaby (Jessica Williams) is going through a divorce, his neighbor Liz (Bill Lawrence TV regular Christa Miller) is just trying to help, though she just annoys folks a lot and Jimmy's boss Paul (Harrison Ford) is dealing with his own Parkinson's diagnosis.
Of course, much of the show kind-of revolves around Jimmy. For example, his daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) is also trying to cope with life without her mother, and we get a lot of time with Jimmy's patient Sean (Luke Tennie) a young military veteran who is slowly unpacking the trauma he retained from overseas.
And through each of Shrinking's five already-aired episodes, the series has continued to impress — leaving me in some varying state of emotion. For me, this is honestly all I need from a TV show. The group-work needed to bring AFC Richmond from relegation to the title chase was a sufficient and effective thing to build Ted Lasso around, but interesting characters dealing with life is all I think a show needs to deliver.
Shrinking's cast is a winning team
Shrinking also works because each of the aforementioned cast members feels perfectly cast in their roles. Segel, somewhat obviously, is perfect as a frustrated guy who's unable to move on. It's what made Forgetting Sarah Marshall so good.
Even crotchety Harrison Ford (in his second TV show in a year's time following 1923) fits in perfectly as Paul — who often has the driest material to deliver and delivers peak sarcasm. But he always gets little moments, such as when he's erratically driving his car (which he shouldn't be) or giving Jimmy's daughter Alice advice, where the character feels alive.
Currently, Ford's only been given the early moments of dealing with Paul's Parkinsons diagnosis, but a scene in which he's trying to reveal it to a family member is already sticking out in my head.
Luke Tennie's Sean, though, is an early favorite and surprise. Credited with roles since 2016, in shows such as Snowfall and Deadly Class, Tennie may likely be under the radar for many. That won't be the case after Shrinking, as he's managed to make Sean's trauma, rage and humor all flow naturally.
And for those who aren't familiar with her run on The Daily Show, and her roles in Love Life, 2 Dope Queens and the Fantastic Beasts movies, Shrinking is proving a strong showcase for Jessica Williams. I won't spoil why she's giving Jimmy a hard time (albeit in a friendly manner) in episode 5, but her reactions alone continue to prove interesting. And it seems like Gaby's on the verge of getting more time on-screen, for Williams to show her range.
Much like the AFC Richmond locker room, Shrinking offers a range of characters all dealing with their own drama. And just like with Ted Lasso, it all fits together.
Outlook: It's the perfect time to dive into Shrinking
Those curious about Shrinking, who were planning on coming back to Apple TV Plus for Ted Lasso season 3, should know that Shrinking's 10 episode run will overlap with Ted Lasso's March 15 return. If you dive in now, you'll be able to blitz through the first six episodes in around 3 hours, and then watch Shrinking over the next weeks.
And, hey, if you don't love Shrinking? You can always spend the next weeks rewatching Ted Lasso. And there's plenty more on Apple TV Plus to watch — trust us, we name it one of the best streaming services for good reason.