Review by Sean Boelman
Harrison Ford is a movie star, so it’s interesting to see that only in recent years has he begun to dip his toes into serialized content (he can also be currently seen leading the Yellowstone spin-off 1923). However, his role in Shrinking gives him an opportunity to show a side of his range that many people had likely forgotten about, as the hysterical co-star of an equally funny comedy series created by Jason Segel alongside Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence.
The show follows a grieving therapist who starts an unorthodox new method — telling his patients the complete, unfiltered truth without any regard to the consequences. It’s a premise that seems like a setup for some pretty absurd antics, and while the show does feature some of the protagonist’s ill-advised adventures with his patients, the better parts dive deeper into his own personal life.
As one would expect from a show created by this group, Shrinking is absolutely hilarious. Much of the humor is of the lighthearted yet cringe-inducing variety, capitalizing on the awkward situations in which the characters find themselves to get a quick laugh out of the audience. But even for those who aren’t a fan of that style of humor, there are plenty of quips and one-liners to keep them invested.
However, like Ted Lasso, the thing that really allows this show to soar is how endearing it is. The family drama aspects are surprisingly raw, and while some of the plot points throughout the season begin to feel a tad melodramatic — particularly the various romantic goings on for the characters — the writers know exactly how to pull on the heartstrings in the right way.
The main draw for the series is the cast, led by phenomenal turns from Jason Segel and Harrison Ford. For the most part, Segel is doing his usual schtick — a charming but slightly dopey dude lacking in social tendencies — but it’s a perfect match for what this show is doing. Ford, on the other hand, is doing something rather off-type and absolutely knocks it out of the park.
Yet even though Segel and Ford are the big stars, don’t ignore the strong supporting cast. Jessica Williams is beyond hilarious in her role, and Lukita Maxwell is pretty phenomenal as the emotional backbone of the series, playing Segel’s character’s daughter in a way that is surprisingly light on teenage cliches.
From a technical level, the show isn’t anything special. It’s a pretty standard single-cam sitcom setup that doesn’t do much to deviate from the formula. Still, there is a sort of comfort in the familiarity of the style — a callback to the sitcoms we grew up with and made us laugh on a weekly basis.
Shrinking will go down as one of the best new comedies to debut in the year, not because it reinvents the genre, but because it pulls it off so effectively that it’s hard not to love. Hopefully audiences will fall in love with these characters too so we can see more of their mis(adventures).
Shrinking streams on Apple TV+ beginning January 27. Nine out of ten episodes reviewed.