Shrinking “Fifteen Minutes” Spoilers Ahead
Shrinking Season 1, Episode 3, “Fifteen Minutes,” continues to tug hard by making sure it places extraordinary emphasis on the importance of grieving instead of numbing. The episode’s writing does a splendid job of establishing the show’s humor while simultaneously reminding viewers that, at its core, this is a story about second chances and swimming through the waves of heartaches.
A precise method to overcome something will only work for some people. Human beings are vastly complex, and we each operate too differently for there to be a universal strategy for how we process grief. But one imperative detail is necessary to thrust us forward, and it’s the fact that we must grieve. A person can bottle up their pain and set it aside for so long before explosions occur. There’s only so far you can push the pain before it starts stinging from a different area. And even when the pain comes from something we know we must do, something that’s supposed to make us happier and better, like divorce, it doesn’t change the fact that allowing ourselves to feel the loss is critical to overcoming it. We cannot and shouldn’t get over pain; we must go through it.
Hey Siri, play “Boston” by Augustana. (Writer’s Note: There are a lot of songs in this category in my catalog, but this one’s the one we’re going with now, and I need anyone who reads this review to share their 15-minute song with us in the comments.) Paul’s chats with Alice are easily one of the most vital scenes in the show—to see the eldest and youngest character in the series connect as closely as they do is a riveting showcase of the detail that sadness at any age, in any form, is a universally perpetual itch. While Paul might not be grieving anyone we know, grief in the form of a life once known and good health is a unique kind of monster. Thereby, telling Alice about his fifteen-minute method to grieve heavily with an alarm, then extending it toward Jimmy, makes for a pretty perfect TV moment. It’s especially grand in what it conveys because it could perhaps do the same for viewers. (Music is powerful, and this series, along with Christa Miller’s music supervision, are a gift.)
It’s hard for any kid to lose their parent, but something about a teenage girl losing her mother is a dark cloud that never entirely goes away. The same can be said about boys and their fathers. Or, in general, the person one is closest to, which for Alice, it was Tia. And while it’s excellent that Alice has someone like Liz in her circle, it doesn’t change the fact that she could never take her mother’s place. Neither could any woman that Jimmy ever gets close to later in life. The thing about grief is that even when you get through it, you don’t fully let it go. We grow around our pain, but allowing ourselves to feel the overwhelming waves makes the healing process much healthier. There’s going to come a day when someone throwing a plant away won’t upset Alice as it does when Sean does it in Shrinking’s “Fifteen Minutes.” But there’s also going to be a day in the future when something completely random might remind her of her mother, pushing Alice toward feeling the colossal weight of loss yet again as though it’s the first time she’s learning about it. There will still be days that feel like we’re collapsing under rogue waves, even when we become better swimmers.
The same can be said about how the entire series centers around Jimmy navigating through grief and learning how to reconnect with Alice by pushing through the storms. It’s awkward, but it’s glorious how well Jason Segel breathes life into this role as a broken father trying to do his best. In our advance review, I’d said that this is his most suitable role yet, and it’s because of moments like this where not only is his growth as an actor palpable, but you believe so much of what his character is conveying. Jimmy is trying to do everything in his power to leave the state of numbing that he was in and enter the space of healing is the show’s most authentic depiction of heart. (It’s palpable even when he royally screws up.) But it’s a long and winding road for parents and teenagers on a good day; thus, the challenges present in this episode result in some of the most riveting explorations of grief on television. And to think, we’re only three episodes in. I did say this was one of the best shows of the year, didn’t I?
Sometimes, microwave pizza is a significant first step, and Shrinking understands the importance of the little moments having tremendous impacts. Jimmy isn’t making his best choices yet, and we still have a long way to go until he starts to do better in more areas, but the effort deserves commending. There are plenty of tears shed in this episode, each rightfully necessary, and the process of marinating in pain instead of numbing it leads to poignant places of healing.
Shrinking’s third episode also spends a reasonable amount of time letting us get to know Gaby more. When Jimmy thinks he caught her cheating, he confronts her only to learn that she and her husband are getting divorced. At a party later, which Jimmy is hesitant to attend, he learns that she’s a bit heartbroken, especially because she can’t talk to Tia about it. “Fifteen Minutes” gorgeously gives Jessica Williams raw material to work with that shows the audience how deeply she misses her best friend. It continues to fortify the detail that though it appears that Tia’s death changed Jimmy the most, everyone’s fighting the swim ashore after.
Tia meant something to everyone, and for Gaby, losing her meant losing her person—hearing those words aloud was crushing, thanks to Williams’ stunning exhibition of heartache. And no matter who crosses Gaby’s path in the future, she’s always going to wish she could turn back to Tia to talk to her about it. In the same way that no one could take away her role as the mother in Alice’s life, no one could replace her as Gaby’s best friend, which the thought alone requires working through. It’s lovely to see that the episode has Jimmy comforting her through the process of feeling the emotions because it’s not only proof that he’s learning, but his means of being there for others allows his own shadows to feel less daunting.
In Ted Lasso’s “The Hope That Kills You,” Ted tells the team that it’s better to be sad than to be sad and alone, and Shrinking’s “Fifteen Minutes” brings this idea to life by exhibiting that no one on this show is unaided through this process. Because even when the characters are in their own headspace, even when they’re fighting against the battles through their own distinct routes, they’re surrounded by people who’d do anything for them. No form of progress is too small, and like dominos, they’re falling where they need to be, even when it appears like they’re going backward (clients included).
- No, but seriously, the fifteen-minute method is A+.
- Since this show takes place in Pasadena, I’m expecting someone to attend afternoon tea somewhere. Pasadena has the best spots, and selfishly, it’s something I need to see.
- PHOEBE BRIDGERS. That’s it. That’s the thought.
- Are we going to have something between Paul and the doctors? I don’t know…there were sparks.
- There’s nothing worse than feeling guilty about having a moment of peace in the process of grieving. Human beings are so screwed up, and I’m so glad we get this realistic depiction of it through Alice.
- Also glad the entire neighborhood hates Pam. That was her name, right? Or we could call her Karen.
- Gaby, change your car, please. But Debora’s a great name. Also, glad someone else takes these things as seriously. My car’s name is Obi-Wan Kenobi. I get it. It’s important.
- Harrison Ford being sad is a MOOD. Harrison Ford being funny is an even bigger mood.
Now streaming on Apple TV Plus: What are your thoughts on Shrinking “Fifteen Minutes?” Let us know in the comments below.