A New Comedy From the Makers of ‘Ted Lasso’

Jason Segel leads 'Shrinking,' a bittersweet comedy about the messy, painful yet ultimately hopeful process of grieving

The hilarity of despair

When Jimmy Laird lost his wife in a car accident, he also lost the plot a little bit. Now a single dad to a teenaged daughter and struggling mightily to cope with overwhelming grief, he takes it out on his clients. If only Jimmy wasn’t a therapist… How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel creates and headlines a new 10-episode comedy wherein the person you come to for support at your time in need decides to break all the rules by telling his clients exactly what he thinks—ethics, training and his own counsellor/co-worker, played by Harrison Ford, be damned.  

ShrinkingApple TV+Behind the scenes, Segel is joined by sitcom vet Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town, Ted Lasso) and two-time Emmy-winner Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent, in addition to one of that show’s writers). “Brett, Jason and I wrote it together. We wanted to write a show about grief because right now the world’s a little bit of a dumpster fire and you can’t meet anybody that isn’t at least two or three degrees separated from some sad s*** going on in their life,” says Lawrence. “My family approaches that with humour and comedy.” 

While grieving does not seem super funny, Segel discovered that there is a lot of hilarity to be mined from the darkest of places. “Rock bottom is an interesting thing because it seems like it’s a sad place, but it’s actually very hopeful because there’s no place to go but up,” he says. “And watching people scramble in the dark to try to pull themselves out of a hole I think is an inherently funny thing. Grownups desperate is really funny.”  

ShrinkingApple TV+Much like on the other heartfelt show he is currently hard at work on, the key to the tone, says Goldstein, is balancing the drama with the humour. “People keep asking us about the tone, like, ‘How can you make something that’s so funny when it’s so sad?’ And I’m always like, ‘Isn’t that life? Isn’t that daily existence?’ It feels instinctual to us. But in terms of balancing the tone, it’s something you’re doing in the script, then on-set with performances, then in the edit. And it’s always finding the right balance. If it’s too silly, you’ll stop taking it seriously. And if it’s too sad, you’ll stop laughing. So, we are constantly toying with it.” 

To nail the complexity of the characters, it helps to have great actors. Luckily, Lawrence is close in proximity to one of the best. “Harrison’s my neighbour, so I knew him a little bit. I remember asking him to read the script, and he read it, he’s like, ‘I like it. Am I going to be in the next one more?’ ” recalls Lawrence. The writer replied that Ford could be in it as much as he wanted and, in turn, introduced him to Goldstein. “He met with Brett and he’s like, ‘I love this guy! He’s going to be working on the show?’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re never going to see him again. He lives in London. Don’t worry about it. It’s a show with Jason Segel. It’s going to be great.’ And he goes, ‘Who’s Jason Segel?’ ” 

ShrinkingApple TV+Lawrence sent Ford a few of Segel’s films, which both convinced the actor to join the project and prompted a text from Ford to Segel about his full-frontal nudity in the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall—which Segel then framed and hung on his wall. Yet in all seriousness, Segel has no problem demonstrating his vulnerability onscreen. “I’m really lucky that I don’t really have a strong sense of pride or shame,” he jokes. “I think life is just going through [it], having no idea what the point is, and bumping into walls left and right. The best I was able to express vulnerability was literally, in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, full-frontal nudity. But there are moments in this show that are the same level of vulnerability but a more mature version, which is emotional vulnerability. What does it look like if someone is really grieving something that they’re never going to get back? It’s the same impulse of, let’s get really honest about what life actually feels like when nobody’s looking.” 

When it comes to therapy, Segel counts himself as a genuine fan. “I like therapy a lot,” he reveals. “I had an ex-girlfriend who kept saying, ‘You should go to therapy.’ And all I heard in my head was that she was criticizing me. Then I went to therapy and I was like, ‘Oh, she loved me. She just wants me to be happy.’ And I think that’s one of the cool things about the show: It explores how therapists can really help you get out of a rut.” 

New episodes of Shrinking stream each Friday on Apple TV+