Shrinking Season 2 Could Tell A Darker Story

Apple TV+'s Jason Segel-starring comedy about a therapist embracing radical honesty might deliver a dramatic curveball with season 2.

Jason Segel in "Shrinking," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Photo: Apple TV+

This article contains spoilers for the Shrinking season 1 finale.

Though an honest and unflinching story about grief, season 1 of Apple TV+ comedy Shrinking was also cheerful ray of sunshine.

That’s in keeping with the M.O. of its creators Jason Segel, Bill Lawrence, and Brett Goldstein. Segel is a beloved Muppet-enchanted movie star while Lawrence and Goldstein are fresh off of producing Ted Lasso, another Apple TV+ comedy so relentlessly optimistic that it makes Mr. Rogers look like Mr. Squidward. Shrinking is an important entrant into the increasingly packed space of “Good Vibes” television (a genre that Lawrence arguably helped pioneer in creating shows like Spin City, Scrubs, and Cougar Town).

That’s why it’s particularly surprising that the very last scene of the Shrinking season 1 finale features a moment that could darken the tone considerably of the already-announced season 2. Allow us to explain.

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Despite its groovy hang out comedy execution, Shrinking season 1 was not without conflict. The series opens with lead character Jimmy Laird (Jason Segel) still reeling from the death of his wife in a car crash a year prior. As Jimmy slowly begins to emerge from his cocoon of grief to reconnect with his friends like next-door neighbor Liz (Christa Miller) and his daughter Alice (Lukita Maxwell), he also stumbles into a bold new strategy in his work as a therapist.

Having hit rock bottom via pure unadulterated grief, Jimmy finds that he doesn’t have the patience to observe social niceties with his patients any longer. He’ll tell them what he really thinks about their problems. He’ll also tell them about his own problems in his personal life and even take them on little field trips as needed like when he breaks into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena so one of his charges can scatter his mother’s ashes.

If you find yourself wondering “is a therapist committing criminal trespassing with their patient considered an ethical violation?” the answer is “yes, yes it is!” Shrinking makes no attempt to hide from the reality that Jimmy’s actions would be frowned upon within the therapeutic industry and within season 1’s first two episodes Jimmy’s senior colleague Dr. Paul Rhoades (Harrison Ford) makes it clear that he does not approve of these shenanigans.

Still, despite Jimmy’s questionable approach to his practice, Shrinking season 1 carries on as an elevated hangout comedy with all of its characters getting along and enjoying one another’s company. It’s not until the joyful finale wedding that Paul reminds Jimmy of their previous disagreement. Even then, however, he has to admit that things have largely worked out.

“All that crazy shit you did with patients. I’m surprised you didn’t burn the whole practice down.”

To which Jimmy responds: “Let’s be honest, I got really lucky.”

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Then, as though summoned by the words themselves, one of his patients decides to make sure that Jimmy’s luck runs out. Throughout season 1, Jimmy had tried to convince his patient Grace (Heidi Gardner) to leave her abusive husband Donny. In their most recent session, Grace confessed to finally wanting to stand up for herself and dreamed of a time when she could just push Donny off of a cliff. Jimmy, assuming Grace was speaking metaphorically, encouraged her desire to let Donny go.

Whelp! Grace was not speaking metaphorically. In Shrinking season 1’s final moment, Grace goes ahead and pushes Donny right off a cliff.

Going into Shrinking season 2, it seems highly unlikely that Grace’s fateful decision won’t blow back on Jimmy and his practice in someway. That’s something that Lawrence addressed in a post-finale interview with Collider, saying:

“When you write a show like this, even though it’s a sitcom, we follow people and we knew what we were doing. A thing I can say without spoilers is that, with the character Jimmy, no matter what his journey was, we couldn’t go on this journey and have only positive consequences from how he has behaved. If we did that, we would be making a big mistake and we would get tagged for it.”

Shrinking season 2 will almost certainly delve into the negative consequences of Jimmy’s controversial approach to therapy. Should Grace be interviewed by police and just happen to mention that her therapist encouraged such behavior, it could naturally lead to an examination of Jimmy’s previous actions up to and including the essential adoption of war veteran Sean (Luke Tennie).

Should all of that come to pass, Shrinking season 2 could end up being a bit of a darker experience than its joyful first go around. Undoubtedly, the show will find a way for some optimism to sneak through as pure pessimism is not a good fit for this Apple TV+ comedy. Sure enough: in that same Collider interview, Lawrence mentioned that the ultimate consequences of season 1’s final moment might not be what people expect.

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“We knew, going in, that the ending of the first year would lead us into what we wanted to write about in the second season,” Lawrence said. “I don’t wanna do any spoilers, but I don’t think it’s what people will imagine it’s going to be. They’re not gonna be in a courtroom.”

Of course, there’s a lot of room between “everything’s fine and nobody’s mad about Jimmy encouraging his patient to murder someone” and “searing courtroom drama.” We’ll see what point in-between those two poles Shrinking season 2 attempts to occupy.

All 10 episodes of Shrinking season 1 are available to stream on Apple TV+ now.