Shrinking “Potatoes” Review: In and Out of Line

Liz and Gaby in Shrinking "Potatoes"
Apple TV Plus

Shrinking “Potatoes” Spoilers Ahead

If last week’s “Fifteen Minutes” was all about timed crying, then Shrinking Season 1, Episode 4, “Potatoes,” is about coming to terms with the words we can’t say aloud—the confessions that don’t come easily and the ones that do. It’s about rebuilding and rewiring and learning to understand that everyone suffers from something on the inside, no matter how okay they seem.

It’s about messing up and coming clean while revealing stubborn traits many of us carry, whether we’d like to admit it or not. Would I chew on a raw potato just to get back at someone else? No, but it’s entirely understandable and completely (albeit ridiculously) human to showcase Jimmy doing so. As much as Shrinking is a series about grief, its central theme focuses heavily on reconnecting with people, and in this episode, it’s not merely about Jimmy and Alice, but it’s about Paul and his daughter, Meg. And reconnecting or relearning how to bond with someone is seldom an effortless stunt, especially after prior complications or internal battles that people are still fighting. Through a surprising turn of events and some awkward conversations I would personally avoid like the plague with my family back when I was a teen, Shrinking’s “Potatoes” manages another winning episode.


Shrinking "Potatoes"
©Apple TV Plus

Paul’s relationships are the most riveting in the series thus far, and that’s something we’ll likely keep coming back to. The banter between him and Jimmy is top-notch, even when it’s about…potatoes. The vulnerability around Alice is utterly brilliant. And the walls between him and his daughter are a whole other story. To see Harrison Ford juggle each of the character’s relationships through mixed gradients is something only a legend like himself can manage without breaking the stoicism that makes Paul who he is. No, he doesn’t let his walls down entirely around Alice despite the ease in their conversations, but he inches toward opening up as need be. And it’s why his relationship with his daughter is so captivating because even without the excess of details, Ford carefully shows us much of what his character experienced after his divorce.

As much as Paul can give Jimmy lectures about having patience with his clients, there are parts of him that still need to learn and unlearn the same lesson about himself. Paul needs to trust that the people around him will care about the fact that he’s going through something difficult. He’s going to have to believe himself to be worthy of second chances and the love of his family, even if he’s the one who shut them out in the first place. People are tirelessly in and out of line, but at the same time, nothing learned sticks the first time around. The same can be said about Jimmy apologizing to Liz, but we all know he’ll snap again at some point because human beings are complicated and messy.

Crossing Boundaries

Christa Miller as Liz in Shrinking Season 1 Episode 4 "Potatoes"
©Apple TV Plus

It’s excellent that Shrinking’s “Potatoes” lets Jimmy and everyone else understand that Liz isn’t puppeteering Connor. No matter how young they seem, teens have agency on this show, and rightfully so, which the episode showcases through Alice’s confession. But there’s also something to be said about consent, boundaries, and where the characters will go from here. Gaby choosing to give Alice a safe space to talk is one thing, and choosing to befriend Liz is another. Everyone’s grieving Tia’s death differently, and no matter how frustrating Liz might seem, her intentions continue to come to light beautifully.

She cares deeply and sincerely about being a part of circles because it’s a way of belonging as much as it is about sharing her energy, which is why seeing the budding friendship between her and Gaby is going to be riveting as the season moves forward. But the two of them talking to Jimmy about Sean’s energy and the connection we’ve all sensed between him and Alice was gah—I couldn’t help but put myself in Alice’s shoes at that moment. And this is where each of their complexities comes to life so organically because so much of what happens on this show is unfurling one cluster after another to find some semblance of organization.

No one’s going to change overnight. No matter how safe a place might seem, even those wanting to be freed from their demons aren’t going to crack immediately. Sean will start to open up someday, but the day needs to be suitable for him. He might be a dam cracked wide open when it happens, or his experiences might arrive through small revelations. The point is, grand gestures or small, calculated decisions don’t always lead to immediate reprieve. Slow and steady wins the race on some occasions, but others need to sprint right through. It’s different for everyone, like potato preferences, and so far, it continues to evolve the characters brilliantly. (The fact that it took me this long to make a potato pun merits some kind of an award.) 

Stray Thoughts

  • Gaby and Paul jamming to Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning” in the car is proof that Christa Miller is the best musical supervisor any show could have.
  • I would also talk about potatoes all day long.
  • Serendipitous is also one of my favorite words, Brian.
  • In the age of infectious diseases still out in the wild, having inside clothes and outside clothes is important, okay?
  • “Am I gonna have to learn this one’s name?” / “They’ve been married for six years.” I howled.
  • Imagine being Jimmy’s neighbor and hearing him stomp around yelling at another neighbor. In Pasadena. Just take two seconds to picture it. And then hearing him jump around on a trampoline, threatening a kid, which I also haven’t seen a grown man do. 
  • Sean is indeed a beautiful man.

Now streaming on Apple TV Plus: What are your thoughts on Shrinking “Potatoes?” Let us know in the comments below.


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