‘Shrinking’ desperately needs you to love it

Harrison Ford’s more reserved demeanor serves as a much-needed foil to the oversharing instincts of Jimmy (Jason Segel) and the rest of Contractioncharacters.
Photo: AppleTV+

Watching Contraction it’s like welcoming an energetic guest who overstays his welcome. At first, it’s fun to have them around: they make amusing comments over a cup of coffee, their demeanor is upbeat, and their theme song features the soothing vocal styles of Ben Gibbard. Plus, they brought Harrison Ford with them, and that’s definitely a huge bonus. But after a few hours of listening to them gossip endlessly about their own problems and the problems of others who are absolutely it’s none of their business, you kind of need a break.

It is the vibe of this new Apple TV+ series about a widowed therapist whose own sanity needs some work. Contraction is a comedy about feelings – people struggling with theirs and hurting those of others, and talking incessantly. It’s tempting to compare this heart-and-sleeve wit to a Cameron Crowe movie, but it’s more accurate to say that Contraction has the attitude of a Bill Lawrence TV series, because that’s exactly what it is. Lawrence, who inaugurated Scrubs, Cougar Cityand Ted Lasso on screen, co-created it with Lasso starring Brett Goldstein and Contraction star Jason Segel, whose role as Jimmy, the grieving and awkward father of his teenage daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell), fits very well into his wheelhouse. Contractionthe emphasis on valuing human connection and acting outside of your comfort zone even has a Lasso-ian tenor; Jimmy, who is determined to be more there for his daughter and shake up his approach to helping his patients, doesn’t have a homemade sign with his personal motto taped above the front door of his office, but he is easy to imagine by adding a .

Also as Ted Lasso, Contraction is a series that clearly wants to win over its audience. But his desire to be liked begins to become aggressive after a few episodes. It’s possible that some of the show’s cringiest tendencies — an absurd depiction of how therapy works, romantic bonds that develop from the deepest corners of left field, dialogue that sounds a lot like that written for a TV show rather than reflecting how people actually speak – may feel less overwhelming when viewed on the Apple TV+ schedule. Like most offers on the platform, Contraction will air episodes weekly after Friday’s premiere of the first two. Ingesting them in larger doses can make these defects easier to tolerate. May be.

It’s not like Contraction is totally devoid of charm. At the center of that charm is Ford, who has recently turned his attention to television – he currently stars in Paramount+ Yellowstone prequel 1923 – and appears in a direct-action comedy for the first time since appearing in Presenter 2 a decade ago. As Paul, he’s exactly what you’d expect from Ford: grumpy and impatient, but appealingly so. («Do you know what percentage of yourself is actually water?» asks Gaby of Jessica Williams, a fellow therapist at the practice where Jimmy and Paul work. fuck,» Paul replies. .)

Paul’s more reserved demeanor serves as a fun and much-needed foil to the other characters’ over-sharing instincts, and Ford seems to relish every sarcastic line he can utter. There is also dramatic material to exploit here; Paul grapples with a Parkinson’s diagnosis and how to share that reality with his semi-distant daughter Meg (Lily Rabe). The scenes where they navigate his condition and the old wounds of their relationship burst Contractionthe feel-good shine and sound with authenticity. Ford also discovers an unexpected humor in the situation: when, after consuming a large dose of an edible, he explains that Meg is coming to visit me and «take charge of my care,» the dismayed smile on his face as he utters these words deserve his attention. own Emmy nomination.

While Ford stands out, the entire cast is strong, so strong that the show seems increasingly determined to give everyone equal time. Which does Contraction a bit heavy as he tries to balance his A-story – Jimmy’s attempt to reconnect with Alice and be more effective with his patients, especially Sean (Luke Tennie), an Army vet who suffers from PTSD – along with a bunch of other B- and C – stories, including Gaby’s relationship with her ex-husband, the dynamic between Jimmy’s best friend Brian (Michael Urie) and his partner, and the complicated connection between Jimmy and his neighbor Liz (Christa Miller), who stepped in to parent Alice when Jimmy left after the death of his wife. There’s a lot to do and trying to do it all, especially in episodes that are only half an hour long, dilutes the emotional impact any individual story might have. Shrinkg also insists on pushing the idea that all of these people are close friends, even though that doesn’t make any conceptual sense. But forcing literally everyone in Jimmy’s orbit to spend time together is exactly the kind of thing a well-meaning, affection-hungry friend might do.

In the first episode, when Jimmy hits a wall in his practice and is tired of listening to his patients complain over and over about the same problems, Paul diagnoses the problem: it’s compassion exhaustion, he explains. -it, and this is precisely the danger of looking Contraction. Its characters can be quick-witted, entertaining, and played by skilled actors, but listening to them buzz about pretty much the same personal issues becomes unnerving over the course of ten episodes. Jimmy tries to fight his compassion fatigue by calling his patients on their bs, which unfortunately we can’t do with people who only exist within the confines of our screens. But we can follow Paul’s example and carefully assess what percentage of ourselves cares to keep watching. Contraction.

ContractionThe first two episodes premiere on Apple TV+ on January 27, followed by one new episode a week on Fridays.

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