Shrinking Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Fifteen Minutes

Reviews, Shrinking, Television

Shrinking is not a show about a therapist in mourning.

After Shrinking Season 1 Episode 3, we can safely say It’s a show about three therapists in mourning. 

Coping with significant losses is the common thematic thread tying Jimmy, Paul, and Gaby’s parallel stories together.

How each of them mourns says a lot about their respective characters. 

Jimmy is our protagonist. He tries to act like a superhero with his rebel therapy tactics as his superpowers. Look no further than how he saved Alan’s date during the opening. However, he’s not a hero. 

Paul is a hero. Even without Paul saying he faces the truth like a hero with the conviction only Harrison Ford could deliver — we know he’s a hero because of his actions.   

Julie: Do you remember that we had a talk about eating healthier.
Paul: I do. I ignored it.

For the most part, he doesn’t let his emotions control him and puts aside his ego. Jimmy pushes his buttons enough to test him on this, but there are always the people in our lives who can get under our skin the way no one else can.  

Giving up driving was a massive blow to Paul’s independence, but it was the right thing to do. He helps others, like Alice, for the sake of helping others.

As a result, he’s a far more effective therapist than Jimmy because counseling leads to Alice and Jimmy making genuine behavioral changes.

In contrast, for all his effort and involvement in getting his patients to change, Jimmy is not getting real results.

Alice: If we have dinner right now, he just act like a total idiot.
Paul: He might; he often does.

He got a win with Alan. However, Grace returning to Donny, beyond being a realistic outcome, exposes an ugly truth about Jimmy. He’s selfish.

Paul was right in his assessment of Jimmy using rebel therapy as a new way to get high. Jimmy sincerely desires to help people, but he makes everything about himself.

Grace, for instance, only left Donny because she wanted to please Jimmy.

Jimmy’s selfishness is also adversely affecting Sean’s treatment.

He couldn’t even let Sean finish his MMA session — even if Sean was cool with leaving early — because he was too wrapped in his feelings about Gaby’s divorce. This is on top of Jimmy creating Sean’s housing crises.

If there weren’t many mitigating factors — the tragic backstory, the funniness of the character, and Segel’s inherent likeability — Jimmy would be insufferable to watch. He can’t even put his daughter’s needs above his own.

Jimmy: It’s pissing me off.
Paul: Makes sense, divorce is always hardest on the coworkers.

Even villains can usually be counted upon to care about their kids. Jimmy’s not a villain, but he has a long journey ahead of him before he can be a hero like Paul or Alice.

One of the best things about Shrinking is the deep characterization. A lot of the time, and for good reasons, Alice has the exterior of a porcupine. However, like Paul and unlike her dad, she can step outside herself and be generous to others.

Her scenes with Paul are quickly becoming one of the show’s signature dynamics. The scenes they share are great because they can discuss the themes without it coming across as a lecture to the audience, and it’s heartwarming without being saccharine.

Alice may be a lot tougher to like than Jimmy, but she is a far more sympathetic character.  

Fortunately, Jimmy is showing signs that he, too, can be sympathetic. He made progress with controlling his selfishness when he put aside his judgment and supported Gaby through the aftermath of her divorce like a real friend.

Speaking of Gaby, “Fifteen Minutes” makes up for the previous lack of focus on the character. We learn a lot about her. She’s a lot in the morning. She was married to Nico, who has substance abuse issues.

Again, it’s to the credit of the writing that the show can quickly throw a lot of disparate information at you and still make the character cohesive. Even the seemingly trivial details, like Gaby naming her car Little Debbie, feel vital to know about the character.

Brian was mostly relegated to comic relief, but he’s excellent comic relief, especially when he immediately switched from celebratory to somber when he arrived at Gaby’s divorce party. The man knows how to read a room.

Let’s get drinks tonight. We can invite Gaby. I didn’t get to see her too much when you cut me out for being too kind and supportive.


It’s reassuring at this early stage that Shrinking already has a handle on balancing the ensemble and giving everyone a fair share of comedic and dramatic moments.

If there is one character who seems destined to remain solely as comic relief, it’s Derek. He appears to fit the Coach Beard (from Ted Lasso) role, where the main purpose of his presence is to add an extra layer of humor.

He performs the job beautifully. The scene where most of the cast comes together when Pam gives Sean a hard time is a fine example.

Unlike Coach Beard, Derek does not seem like a character where the more information dropped about him makes him more mysterious and intriguing.

So far, he is a character who gets a lot of comedic mileage from the small amount of screen time he gets, and it would probably be for the best if it stays that way.   

Over to you, TV Fanatics!

What sad songs would you listen to during your “Fifteen Minutes?”

Would you pretend to get an “A” in history for homemade cake? 

Hit the comments below. 

Catch new episodes of Shrinking on Apple TV+ on Fridays.

Becca Newton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.

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