Therapy is a scary thing for some people to accept but what if you finally accept it and your therapist turns out to be the devil incarnate? In The Shrink Next Door, based on the story of Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, a therapist who controlled his patients lives for nearly 30 years. It wasn’t until 2019 that his license was revoked after the podcast of the same name, which the show is based on, exposed him to the world at large.
The Apple TV+ adaptation of the story and podcast is written by Georgia Pritchett who’s former work includes Veep, Succession, and The Thick Of It. The dialogue is sharp with its humor but it can quickly turn to a very real depiction of mental health. Michael Showalter serves as the series director who’s previous work includes co-creating Wet Hot American Summer and directing The Big Sick. The show has a lot of incredible talent with a story that takes place over a large gap of time. The directing for the scenes where Martin Markowitz, played by Will Ferrell, is receiving therapy from Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, played by Paul Rudd, is incredible. The focus on the individual actors as they go back and fourth in therapy keeps the tension and emotion very tight.
When I first saw the trailer for this show, I couldn’t wait to watch. Seeing actors who are mainly known for their work with comedy getting to play roles where they explore more dramatic stories is always interesting to me. Both actors have played dramatic roles in the past but putting these two up against one another allows for such raw emotional human moments. Will Ferrell has a panic attack at one point that has some comedic elements as his sister played by Kathryn Hahn tries to get him up. While it’s humorous, watching as Ferrell gets to the point of the attack as he is yelled at by a customer felt true to life. You can read it in his face before he has to excuse himself to hide and try to regain himself.
Paul Rudd plays the doctor, the devil in disguise of the show. The character is extremely charismatic and forces you to like him. He’s funny, insightful, and below it all is something insidious. Will Ferrell clearly doesn’t want to go to therapy until he gets there and Ike takes him out and about. With every scene, we can see how Ike quickly slips under Ferrell’s skin and start to guide his entire life. It’s a wonderful performance from Rudd as we can see glimmers of his true intentions under the veneer of a doctor. At its roots, it’s like watching a horror film. In a space where you go to be vulnerable, you are taken advantage of and twisted by a charismatic monster that just so happens to be played by Paul Rudd, who brings the heat to the performance.
Apple TV+ proves over and over again that it is a streaming service that is making it’s own space in the coliseum of services. The shows may not be as numerous but with shows like Ted Lasso, Dickinson, and now The Shrink Next Door, the ticket price is worth it for the amount of quality shows you get. The Shrink Next Door is worth checking out when it comes out on November 12th even if its just to see Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd as a duo.