Shrinking’ review: Jason Segel is the ultimate sad therapist

For Jason Segal, the process of starting a show from scratch feels like a “rafting trip.” You map, plan for the weather, and get your gear from REI, but nothing can prepare you for what lies ahead.

“That moment happens when you get into the river and you realize that the river is in charge. That’s what making a show is all about,” he said in an interview with the Deseret News about his latest series, Downsizing.

The show’s two co-creators, Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence, worked closely together on the two-season hit Ted Lasso, which won multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe. Segel joined them as a writer, creating a relatable comedy that isn’t afraid to deal with mental health.

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The 10-episode series isn’t unlike her other, funnier work, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She plays a widowed therapist, making good use of her sad eyes as she plays opposite “Indiana Jones” actor Harrison Ford, a solemn diminutive.

The first three episodes debuted on Apple TV+ on January 27 and follow Jimmy (Segel) as he tries to cope by being a father, friend and therapist. He decides to ignore his training and ethics and try a new approach by being brutally honest.

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Unorthodox therapy

The opening montage in episode 1 shows a group of Jimmy’s patients. One of them was when Jimmy, still drunk and still reeling from last night, broke down while Grace was sitting on the couch talking about her boyfriend.

“We’ve been doing this for two years – two years of your life,” he shouts, standing up.

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“And you keep telling me how great it is. Well, I saw it. It’s not that great. His muscles are too big, his shirt is too tight – no one likes it, it’s gross,” he says.

The blonde is especially shocked when Jimmy tells her that her partner is emotionally abusive and that she needs to leave him or he will quit her as a therapist. But unfortunately, therapy is more complicated, and the show’s creators understand that.

Jason Segel and Luke Tenney in Release.

Jason Segel and Luke Tenney in Release.

“It’s usually not a one and done. This process, even with his new radical therapy method… he’s not saying it’s a solution,” Segel explained. The truth, though, makes room for real work.

Jimmy reverses the usual routine – “How does that make you feel?” — by acquiring individuality. Consider how she helps ex-soldier Sean (Luke Tenney) by taking him to an MMA sparring gym to help him deal with his anger issues.

The first four episodes, which have been made available for viewing, show a sense of trust between the two, but it’s not yet clear if that will show up in therapy.

Getting Harrison Ford on board

Creators Segel, Goldstein and Lawrence didn’t think the veteran actor would take on the role of Paul, a serious but secretly loving therapist.

“You offer something to Harrison Ford knowing he’s going to say no,” Segel said, noting that it’s still something to brag about.

“But then he said yes. It’s like you asked the most beautiful girl in school to the prom. Anyway, he said yes,” he said. “And then you panic. ‘What shall I wear? Where do I take them for dinner? Oh no, I don’t even know how to dance.’

A scene from The Flash starring Harrison Ford.

Harrison Ford in Downsizing.

Meanwhile, Goldstein, who wrote and starred in “Ted Lasso,” told The Hollywood Reporter that the cast and crew were constantly asking how they landed Ford.

The moment the star arrived on set, he “tried to eliminate any sense of fear in the room and treat everyone as an equal,” Segel said.

The Star Wars alum anchors Segel’s instability and voice of reason with a stoicism that’s easily my favorite on the show. When Jimmy tells Paul about his new approach to therapy, he is quickly shut down by a shrinking principle who is in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

“Great idea. We’re going to take away their autonomy to help them, right?’ he says in episode 1. “Then what will we be?” Psychological guards?” Count on relaxing Ford’s role as experience leader.

“Zoom” is darker than “Ted Lasso”.

Paul is Jimmy’s anchor, and his daughter Alice, played by Lucita Maxwell, is his heart. Dealing with grief, Jimmy abandons his fatherly duties and burdens the teenager, giving him a morning aspirin after a night of partying and taking him to school with him.

Stepping into Jimmy’s shoes was an “extraordinary journey” for Segel, teaching him the character’s struggle to be a good father. Meanwhile, Krista Miller plays Liz as Alice’s mother, who does a good job on screen.

“He’s a master of comedy, and he’s been doing it for a long time,” Segel said of working with him and sharing a vocabulary for humor.

“Cougar Town” fans will see the actress once again play the grumpy neighbor, but even more drama flares up as Jimmy and Liz negotiate over who should take care of the struggling teenager.

The moving scenes fit into the “dark space of grief and loss and trauma” that Jimmy’s character is in, Goldstein told the Deseret News ahead of the show’s release. The story is a departure from the open and loving story of Ted Lasso, an American football coach who teaches football in the UK.

“’Zoom Out’ is a much more intimate show. It’s in this little community of neighbors, work colleagues and family … three or four streets. That’s it,” Goldstein said. The main difference is that Jimmy “starts from a place of self-destruction.” And the 43-year-old seems like the perfect guy to play the role.

Jason Segel: The Saddest Therapist Ever

For a comedic actor, Jimmy was well within his comfort zone, which allowed him to easily put on a “resting-dead-woman face,” as he put it on the show.

“I’ve always had a lot of issues with anxiety and depression and sought help when I needed it, so I’m still here,” Segel said.


Jason Segel in “Exit”.

“I’m sad most of the time,” he joked. “I have never taken life lightly. It was really good for me because it pushed me to write and express something. I feel that I am not alone in this matter.’

He got his big break in 1999 when he starred in Judd Apatow’s hit series Freaks and Geeks and found more fame with his self-penned How I Met Your Mother and The Muppets.

“So when I write something, I write from a place where I really believe that it might be hard to understand what it’s all about,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe it’s fun to figure it out together.”

The show is rated TV-MA for some sexual references, violence and gore, repeated use of profanity, and some crude humor.


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