Review – Shrinking 1×04 – “Potatoes”

We open on a rainy morning in LA. Yes, they do in fact exist. Derek, by now a favorite character, pees into the flower pots on the balcony because Liz “hogs the bathroom in the morning”, and talks to Jimmy who’s enjoying his coffee over on his balcony. (Since Bill Lawrence happily admitted last week that he’s Derek, I do have to ask, but I also am not sure I want to hear the answer; so Bill, on the off chance you’re reading this, I hope the writers room took creative license.) This episode makes a lot of use of having the neighbors talk to each other over the fence, and the first scene immediately sets a mood for what’s to follow; it’s also a wonderful nod to an old sitcom staple.

“I hate getting people in trouble when they don’t deserve it.” – “But when they do deserve it?” – Oh, that’s my favorite thing.”

Christa Miller’s Liz also continues to be a delight – her rant about dreading having Derek home all day when he retires is so goddamn relatable, and I was reminded of her appearance on Brett Goldstein’s Films to Be Buried With (my favorite podcast, please do check it out) where she described her woes about being stuck at home all day with Lawrence during lockdown. It’s also particularly good to see Liz and Gaby reconcile, female rivalry especially over parenting issues is a plot too often employed for unnecessary drama on TV. The scene where they get drunk with Jimmy and talk about how horny they were as teenagers had me practically shouting at the screen in agreement – Miller and Jessica Williams are wonderful here, as is Rachna Fruchbom’s writing. It’s also fucking hilarious, particularly when Liz tells Derek not to be crude a split second later. Alice’s and Gaby’s very sex positive conversation earlier also falls into the same category.

Jimmy’s reaction to his daughter having sex, meanwhile, is trope laden, but it’s ultimately refreshing to see him apologize for his outburst at Liz, and finally thank her for all she’s done for him and Alice. Despite me slightly struggling with these tropes, Segel arguably gets a lot of comedic mileage out of them, particularly in his dynamic with the culprit, Liz’s son Connor (Gavin Lewis). Him jumping on the trampoline while staring down the poor boy had me in stitches, and his alarmed face when he discovers Alice does in fact have a crush on Sean at the end is also gold.

Speaking of laugh-out-loud moments: Harrison Ford singing along to Sugar Ray is something I never imagined I would  get to see, so I just want to thank everyone involved in this show for making it happen. We also explore another more vulnerable side of his Paul, as his subplot revolves around his estranged daughter visiting, and him struggling to reveal her Parkinson’s to her, and potentially even have her sign papers that grant her power of attorney. He also has no relationship with his grandson, a fact he would like to remedy, but Megan (Lily Rabe), his daughter, seems lukewarm at the idea of him visiting. Another surprise is that his lawyer is Brian, and seeing that walking ray of sunshine opposite the old grump is a wonderful dynamic, slightly reminiscent of Ted Lasso and Roy Kent.

About seven minutes into this week’s episode it occurred to me that Ford will likely sweep awards season in the best supporting actor in a comedy category and thus become Brett Goldstein’s direct competitor.  He really only got himself to blame there, but I kind of imagine losing to Harrison Ford would be an honor on its own. But only time will tell, should Ted Lasso Season 3 ever actually see the light of day, and on time for the Emmy deadline – looking at you, Super Bowl commercials this Sunday, because I am with Stephen Colbert here, “Spring” is not a fucking date. But I digress.

“I been feeling pretty fucking good, okay? Like, why would we fuck with that?” – “That’s my job dude, I got a degree in fucking with that.”

As much as I felt that line, and as right as Jimmy obviously is in trying to dig deeper, he keeps fucking up his relationship with his patients. First with Sean, who he eventually tries to pressure into opening up about his time in Afghanistan, which backfires immediately. Grace, who we learned last week is back with her abusive husband, is not answering his calls, and Wally (Kimberly Condict) who suffers from OCD ends up mistaking him inviting himself over to her place and complimenting her for a come on. We spend less time on all of them this episode, but it feels like a lot of this will eventually come crashing down on Jimmy even harder than it has thus far.

I really loved episode 4, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, it feels like the show really founds it groove now; that magic moment when we’re familiar enough with the characters that we can simply watch them exist and interact with each other without needing too much set up anymore. The short Sugar Ray-set montage sequence also reminded me of Scrubs in its best days. I would also argue that this is a pay off we only ever get from old school weekly drops. Binge watching this show may have its own benefits, as I am already realizing how many more details I notice when I watch the episode for the second time (I always watch them twice for writing these recaps). But overall, it’s a nice feeling to invite the characters into my home every week and getting to know them more gradually.

The same goes for the handful of people or so that read my posts every week, I only know about a few of you, but thank you, it really does mean a lot. I do these for me mostly, to accompany me through my time in the day clinic, but if you get anything out of this, come say hi on Twitter or Instagram. Special shout out to Laura Penning who apparently recommended the show to her therapist because of me. I also recommended it to mine.