INTERVIEW: Brett Goldstein and Neil Goldman Talk ‘Shrinking’ and Bringing Comedy to Tragedy
Shrinking has landed on Apple TV+ and now audiences are gifted with the new show from Bill Lawrence, Brett Goldstein, and producer Neil Goldman. Focusing on the life of Jimmy (Jason Segel) and how he’s picking up the pieces of it after the death of his wife, Shrinking is a heart-wrenching comedy that fans are going to love.
Getting to talk with the cast and creatives who brought the show to life was a treat! And talking with Brett Goldstein and Neil Goldman proved one thing to me: They love the show that they brought to life. And they should! It is one of the latest batch of shows that I got to watch through screeners where I instantly wanted to see more of the show because it’s just that good.
Goldstein is on the writing team of Shrinking versus being in front of the camera as well like we’ve been spoiled with in Ted Lasso. But there is a gift to bringing a story to life. And for Goldstein, it is just about building from an idea.
“It’s funny because I don’t really start from a place of, ‘oh, I want to write about grief,’ you know? Or I don’t sort of take a theme,” Goldstein said. “The theme sort of emerges. It usually starts with a character or an idea or a scene even. And you go, ‘oh, there’s something in this.’ And the more you broaden it out, it becomes what it becomes. But for me it’s the area that that exists in with the grief and the trauma and the loss and all the humor and likeness, that’s what life is, isn’t it? That’s everyone’s life. It doesn’t seem like such a huge idea. It’s just going is the story set in life.” You know what I mean?”
Building Jimmy’s community
The series is an ensemble piece. Jimmy wouldn’t be where he is without his friends and loved ones at his side, helping him grieve and move on. And for Goldman that was the draw to the show as a whole. Because working as an ensemble piece does make, frankly, a better viewing experience. Not only because you get to see how these characters all interact with each other but because we get to see how they all help each other.
“We for sure knew that it’s what we wanted because this was Jimmy’s sort of community,” Goldman said. “This was his network. These are his friends and his neighbors and his colleagues. And it was a little tricky because like on one hand you’ve got this, it’s workplace show, it’s a family show and it’s kind of a hangout show. We really wanted to be able to be fluid and have any of these characters be able to interact with any one of them and write a scene for any one of ’em. And the amazing thing about this show is, from a writing perspective, anytime we talked about any combination of these characters, we got excited to write those scenes. Because they all have different dynamics with each other, but fun and interesting ones. And I think that’s important for any show. But in this one we really got lucky with an amazing cast across the board. And, like I said, every single combination we find fun and interesting and hopefully that shows up on screen.”
Letting Harrison Ford be funny
One of my favorite parts about Shrinking comes in the form of Harrison Ford. Playing Phil Rhodes, he is Jimmy’s boss but also someone who clearly cares about his employees and the show let’s him be funny. But it also plays to the strength of the entire cast, which is what Goldstein said about Ford, Jessica Williams, and the cast as a whole.
“I think it’s true with all the casts,” he said. “Once you’ve cast it and you get to know those people, you do write more to it. Once we knew we had the incredible Jessica Williams then it’s very easy and exciting to write for her because you’re like, ‘hell, she will smash this line. She’ll be amazing.’ You can give her anything and it’s gonna be the best line of dialogue you’ve ever written. And it’s the same for all of them. It’s easier once you have this… look at this cast.”
Shrinking is on Apple TV+ each Friday and will be one of your favorite new shows.
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