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‘Shrinking’ Review: Jason Segel and Harrison Ford Deliver Heartwarming and Heartbreaking Comedy

5/5 water bottles.

Harrison Ford talking to Jason Segel in Shrinking

Shrinking is the latest team-up between Apple TV+ and Bill Lawrence (producer of Ted Lasso). Bringing series creators Lawrence and Brett Goldstein together again (Goldstein stars in Ted Lasso), the series is a dark comedy exploring grief, mental health, and how friends can help uplift you when you’re at your lowest. Starring Jason Segel as a therapist named Jimmy, it focuses on his life and family a year after his wife Tia has died. His daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell) is trying to still be a normal teenager in the midst of her father fully checking out of their relationship.

She then turns to the neighbor, Liz (Christa Miller), as her replacement parent as her father struggles to be there, and we start the series as he begins picking his life back up. And while it may be a divisive show depending on whether or not you’re in the mental space to deal with grief and overcoming it, it is a series that has standout performances and is a masterclass in how an ensemble cast works.

Dramatic Jason Segel is the best Jason Segel

Jason Segel driving with Luke Tennie in Shrinking
(Apple TV+)

We’ve come to know Segel as a comedic actor, and that timing does help with a character like Jimmy, but he’s a man going through the death of his wife while also trying to rebuild a relationship with his daughter. He’s complicated, but he’s not the big goofball version of Segel that we met in things like How I Met Your Mother.

Instead, we’re seeing Segel take on grief and being the center of the pain in the series. Everyone else gets to have the funny moments, and while Jimmy has his moments, he is the person who needs the comedic elements to make him feel better, and it is a nice change of pace for the Segel we’ve come to know throughout the years.

Harrison Ford gets to be funny!

Harrison Ford sitting with glasses on his head in shrinking
(Apple TV+)

One of the best parts about the series is how funny Harrison Ford gets to be as Paul. As someone who watched this man’s entire filmography, I know that his sense of humor is one of the best things about him, and many just don’t get his sarcasm. That’s fine, but man does it work with this character. Paul is Jimmy’s boss and a character who is struggling with his own issues. He has Parkinson’s, and his staff has made his health their business, so he hides away the rest of his personal life. They don’t know much about him because he refuses to let them in.

But Paul is the kind of character that is so quick with his responses, and the show highlights the humor that fans of Ford know he’s capable of. He’s not without dimension. He refuses to tell his daughter (Lily Rabe) about his Parkinson’s, he is alone most of the time, and he is clearly lonely despite pretending like he’s not, and it makes him a fascinating character to unpack—made all the more interesting by Ford’s charm and approach to the character.

The show works because it is an ensemble

jessica williams and christa miller drinking together in shrinking
(Apple TV+)

While both Segel and Ford are standouts and the leads of the series, they work because of the ensemble around them. Alice and Liz are there to pick up Jimmy’s family while his work life is balanced because of his friendship with Gabby (Jessica Williams). She’s connected to Jimmy through work but also through their outside friendship that they all used to share with Jimmy, Tia, Brian (Michael Urie), and Brian’s boyfriend, Charlie (Devin Kawaoka).

Gabby and Liz are both connected because of Jimmy and then are made aware of Sean (Luke Tennie), who is a patient of Jimmy’s and living in Jimmy’s pool house because he was kicked out of his parents’. At the center of all their relationships and problems is Jimmy. He brings them all together, and it is how the show works as a whole.

Grief is not universal

lukita maxwell as alice standing in the doorway in shrinking
(Apple TV+)

Jimmy is, for the most part, the main character. His grief is the driving force for all of his friends stepping up to help him. But he’s not alone in it. His daughter Alice lost her mother. And a main part of her arc is coming to terms with her father leaving her on her own to figure out a life without her mom while he tried to figure out a life without his wife. They’ve been separated by how they each grieve, and seeing their growth through the show is incredibly rewarding.

Alice is still just a teenage girl. She’s not perfect, and she makes mistakes and lashes out, but she’s trying and that’s what makes her relationship with Jimmy so gut-wrenching. They just simply do not know how to interact with each other, and their growth throughout the first season is something brilliant to see.

It’s worth the watch

Jason Segel standing in front of a house in Shrinking
(Apple TV+)

While it is produced and created by some of the team from Ted Lasso, Shrinking doesn’t always have that same good feeling that the other series does, mainly because Shrinking is making sure that it’s clear that mental health and healing isn’t something that is explained away by the next episode. Sure, Ted Lasso has done a great job exploring Ted’s anxiety and panic attacks, but it doesn’t have the space to focus on those week in and week out, where Shrinking does.

Both shows are completely different, but because there are similar teams behind them both (with Goldstein and Lawrence working on both shows), they’re going to get compared, and it is just better to go into the series with a fresh mind about it.

Shrinking hits Apple TV+ on January 27 and is a must-see.

(featured image: Apple TV+)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.