The comedy of “Shrinking” starts off a bit lackluster, with Jason Segel’s portrayal of a recently widowed therapist relying on some of his classic traits. He plays piano, makes an impression of Dracula, and generally has the same energy we’ve come to expect from him.
Unfortunately, the series leans too hard on the “Bad Therapist” angle, making it difficult to discern whether Jimmy is good at his job. His gruff superior, Paul (Harrison Ford), is understandably unimpressed.
Everyone in the show has a flaw that serves as a weak point. Even when Jimmy’s life is slowly coming back together, he has a strained relationship with his daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell), who has grown closer to their neighbor Liz (Christa Miller). Alice was left to care for herself after her mother’s death, bringing her closer to Paul. On the other hand, Paul is keeping his Parkinson’s diagnosis a secret from his daughter, too proud to accept help. The show follows the changing allegiances between these characters.
Things start to change when Jimmy starts working with a Black veteran named Sean (Luke Tennie) who has a violent streak when provoked. His time in the military has left him with a lot of unspoken anger.
To help him, Jimmy takes a wild professional risk and takes Sean to a boxing gym. This leads to an altercation that lands Sean in jail and gets him kicked out of his parents’ house. “Shrinking” jumps between sweet and bracing jokes about racial optics, with Jimmy oblivious to it all. Eventually, Sean moves in with Jimmy, which is a terrible idea for a therapist/patient relationship, but “Shrinking” finds a way to make it funny.