When Will Ferrell and newly appointed “Sexiest Man Alive” Paul Rudd join forces for a project, you know the laughs are coming fast and heavy, especially when they portray a Yawk-accented Jewish duo. But Apple TV+’s new series, The Shrink Next Door, will also leave you in several glass cases of emotion. What begins as a twisted buddy show soon takes a deep dive into the dark, shocking pool of manipulation and scheming. It spins a fun web of lies, discomfort and lots of stingingly hilarious lines of dialogue.
This eight-part stranger-than-fiction tale is inspired by Joe Nocera’s wildly popular Wondery podcast about Marty Markowitz and Ike Herschkopf. Ferrell stars as Marty, an eccentric textile company head who struggles to maintain his parents' honorable legacy. His family built their curtain-making business, earning much respect among the community. However, Marty hasn’t been placed in the same light as his folks since he took over the company with his loving but no-nonsense sister, Phyllis (a show-dominating Kathryn Hahn). As a result, his anxiety is through the roof. So, Phyllis suggests talking to a psychiatrist.
Enter charmster Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf. This is the kind of guy who could sell you anything and would have you believe anything. And considering Marty is such a people pleaser, you can bet anything that comes out of Ike’s mouth will be the Bible to him. So just imagine how crazy it gets when you figure out that Ike has big, expensive plans for himself and his family (including Casey Wilson as his wife, Bonnie). And thus begins 30 years of mind games.
Admittedly, at first, you may be a little unsure of what to expect from the series. But after 15 minutes or so, you’ll understand the tone and will hop aboard the wild ride. How far Ike stretches Marty will have you shouting at your screen, wanting so desperately to come to Marty’s rescue. All of what happens creates some severe tension with these parties’ families. Marty and Phyllis’ brother-sister dynamic is the true strength of the show. Phyllis is like Keegan-Michael Key’s anger translator character, Luther. She has been carrying the weight of this family, and she won’t put up with people’s rubbish. There’s even a scene when she warns Marty’s ex that she will rip out her trachea and play it like a flute.
The Shrink Next Door is a great character series that’s sprinkled with funny jabs and a whole mess of intensity. It’ll get a rise out of you, that’s for sure. Yet, you can’t turn away. It’s like true crime, which it is. It’s based on true events. So, hold fast.
Ahead of this weekend’s debut of The Shrink Next Door, Preston Barta of the Denton Record-Chronicle spoke with cast members Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision) and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) and showrunner/executive producer Georgia Pritchett (Succession). In the below seven-minute video interview, we discuss lines of dialogue with significant weight and the art of subtle comedy.