Shrinking Season 1 Finale Review: Harrison Ford Saves A Disappointing Finale
"Closure" - Shrinking's Season 1 finale - ties up everything it should and plants seeds for more, but should it?
Apple‘s Shrinking is billed as a dramedy in which a therapist — Jimmy, played by Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother fame — crushed under the weight of grief begins using bizarre therapy strategies with his clients. While this proved important to the plot, Jimmy’s unprofessional intrusion into his patients’ personal lives was all but forgotten halfway through the inaugural season. Now the Shrinking season finale is here, and it suffers from trying to convince us that this story — whose various threads are pretty much tied up — should continue because of the same gimmick it stopped prioritizing.
SHRINKING SEASON 1 FINALE SCORE
The Shrinking Season 1 finale gives us the answers to pretty much all the questions fans could be asking. Will Jimmy choke while officiating the wedding? Will Brian’s dad Kip (Brian Howe) put his feelings aside and be his son’s best man?
Is Jimmy and Gaby’s friends-with-benefits situation really as “safe” as Gaby (Jessica Williams) thinks, and will Paul (Harrison Ford) step up to help her get that teaching job? Will Paul and his daughter find some common ground? Most importantly, will Jimmy and Alice (Lukita Maxwell) find a way to be comfortable with each other again?
But just like the storm raging outside Nuovo Vesuvio in the final moments of The Sopranos‘ inaugural season, the Shrinking season finale ends with an event that makes it clear a storm is on the way and everything’s about to come unraveled. The “surprise” ending is telegraphed with some of the laziest dialogue in the otherwise well-written series, and the way it comes off, it would’ve felt appropriate if one of the actors had turned to the camera and said, “What do you want? We need a season 2.”
There’s no need to spoil anything, but suffice it to say one of Jimmy’s patients does something bad, and a joke the therapist makes earlier in the episode will no doubt seem very relevant in Season 2.
The problem is that the writers seemed to stop caring about Jimmy’s unorthodox therapy ideas a while ago. Watching the final minutes of the Shrinking season finale, I was initially confused when Paul turns to Jimmy and says, “Still, all that crazy sh-t you did with patients… I’m surprised you didn’t burn the whole practice down.” That part of the story had been neglected for so long that I completely forgot about it.
Likewise, when there was a montage of Jimmy’s patients stepping outside of their comfort zones and taking his advice, it took me a minute to realize what I was seeing. I had forgotten most of the patients, and to be completely honest, I’m only partly guessing that they were “stepping outside of their comfort zones” because it had been so long since we saw any of them that I’m only 20 or 30 percent certain what those “comfort zones” are.
For my money, really the only worthwhile part of the season that came from Jimmy’s outside-the-box therapy storyline is the entry of Sean (Luke Tennie) into the story. The struggling vet adds a much-needed down-to-earth element to the show’s chemistry, and his surprising friendship with Liz (Christa Miller) is a ball to watch.
But otherwise, until the Shrinking season finale montage, the rest of the patients who have either — depending on how you look at it — benefited from or been victims of Jimmy’s therapy experimentation are mostly one-notes who try and fail to return as a booming chorus.
I enjoyed the series premiere and have had plenty of great belly laughs through most of the rest of the series, but as much as I’d love to feel differently, there’s only one thing that could make me want to see any Shrinking past the Season 1 finale: Harrison Ford. It’s been a joy to watch him as a sharp-witted curmudgeon in a lighthearted dramedy, and I wouldn’t hate seeing more of it.
Otherwise, narratively speaking, I’m good. The trajectory of a Shrinking story that survives past the Season 1 finale feels like just about the most predictable thing in the world. Sean’s catering business will start doing well, and then he’ll relapse into violence. Jimmy and Gaby will try out a bonafide relationship, but they’ll both have issues. Paul’s Parkinson’s will intensify, and he’ll think about retiring: it’s a future as murky as a clean window.
But when it comes to opinions like this, I won’t lie — I love being proven wrong. If you want to check out Shrinking for yourself, the entire first season is now streaming on Apple TV+.