easiest to come by in the relationship between therapist and patient, which is the subject of the latest Apple TV+ miniseries, The Shrink Next Door, a true story based off of a Wondery podcast of the same name. Starring funny people, Will Ferrell as Marty Markowitz, Paul Rudd as Dr. Ike, and Kathryn Hahn as Phyllis, this couldn’t be further than a comedy.
The story of Marty and the therapist who turned his life around – then took it over. When he meets Dr. Ike, Marty just wants to get better at boundaries. Over 30 years, he’ll learn all about them – and what happens when they get crossed.
Fans of true crime podcasts will no doubt get sucked into the bizarre world that unfolds before their eyes in The Shrink Next Door. It’s so nutty that viewers of the show, or listeners of the podcast, need reminding that this is indeed a story that truly happened, involving people that really existed…and it is maddening. Throughout watching this show week-by-week, I would often venture into the community of other TV show fanatics, and I noticed one main thing…this show has people divided. Some love it while others can’t stand it. Further analysis shows why:
The Shrink Next Door is immeasurably unsettling and uncomfortable to watch.
I won’t even try to prove otherwise. Indeed, the show is hard to watch. Instead, I’ll try to prove that…that’s kind of the point, and just because it makes you uncomfortable is no reason to rate this series low, as some have done. First, you need to ask yourself if they did what they intended to do, and if they did, you have to give credit where its due, because I think they did a phenomenal job crafting characters you can both love and love-to-hate, and most importantly, root for. If they didn’t do that, then Will’s portrayal of Marty wouldn’t have worked as well as it did, and it wouldn’t pain you to see him being manipulated so much. He’s a great, nice guy who just wants to do the right thing and the way he’s brainwashed for the better part of 30 years is heart-wrenching in so many different ways. Likewise, if they didn’t do their job right, you wouldn’t despise Paul Rudd as much as you do…but you do, because he’s despicable and Rudd plays the role very, very well. They needed an actor that can play buddy-buddy really well, yet…have a hidden agenda, and who better to play buddy-buddy opposite of Will Ferrell than someone who he’s worked with for years. They have proven chemistry already, so why not build on that?
I’ve always adored the rare cases of Will Ferrell challenging himself to play a more serious role, and this is an interesting one, because The Shrink Next Door is listed as a dark comedy. It has moments of humor…and moments of absolute dread, anger, resentment, and hopelessness – and I’m not kidding when I say this is probably the absolute best that I’ve ever seen from Will Ferrell. Especially towards the climax of the story, which can be compared to a slow-burning psychological thriller. I am continually impressed with the work Apple TV+ has done over their very short life thus far, and it kills me to know that not many people are aware of this. Their content, so far, has surpassed my expectations on a consistent basis, and this may be my favorite series that they’ve ever done. Will Ferrell is breathtaking as Marty.
While I watched this series, it inspired me to listen to the Wondery podcast for which it’s based, and it works really well as a companion. You get to hear the real-life voices of Marty, Phyllis, and at times, Ike, proving that these actors did a fantastic job falling into these people’s lives and mentalities. There are definitely things here and there that were suggested or exaggerated, but they were done so lovingly in order to capitalize on the idea of what was actually going on.
If you have Apple TV+, I suggest you check out The Shrink Next Door, where the complete series is now available to stream. If you don’t have the streaming service, I recommend you get a free trial to check out what they have to offer. It can’t hurt…and I promise it’ll be worth it.
© 2021 Dave Gilleand