tv thoughts: The Shrink Next Door (Apple TV)

I’ll be honest – we were out of things to watch and I was browsing Apple TV for something to fill the time. I saw Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd and figured why not. I was not ready for the emotional ride that I was about to get on.

The Shrink Next Door is based off of real life events, about Marty (Ferrell), a somewhat shy, quiet man who visits a therapist (Rudd) in 1982 and becomes hooked on the feeling of being cared for. But the sessions quickly slide from doctor and patient into a very gray area. Soon, Marty and Dr. Ike are hanging out outside of the office and while Marty feels like Ike is helping his self-esteem, it is clear to the viewer that Ike is manipulating Marty in very subtle ways and the poor man is blind to his machinations.

The show opens in 2010 with someone vandalizing a house in the night after a wild party has ended. They are in shadow, but most of us know what Ferrell’s tall form looks like, even in darkness. Flashback to the 1982 with Marty’s sister encouraging him to see a therapist to deal with his panic attacks. We all know it is not going to end well, we have seen the train wreck and we spend the next 8 episodes watching it all unfold in almost painful slow motion.

The entire cast of the series is great and Ferrell and Rudd are, of course, very solid on screen as these two men who are damaged in very different ways. While the series tries to give you some ideas as to why Ike might have behaved this way, it never portrays that as an excuse, as though he should be forgiven for taking advantage of Marty. But they are both fully formed characters based on real people and there are a lot of layers.

This was a solid limited series. The last three episodes were very upsetting to watch, when Marty is all-in and Ike is as his most out-of-touch. But I had to keep going to see how it all wrapped up.

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