Shrinking “Imposter Syndrome” Review: Staying Open

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Shrinking “Imposter Syndrome” Spoilers Ahead

Shrinking Season 1, Episode 6, “Imposter Syndrome,” is an absolute game changer. It’s a brilliant, quietly evocative episode that brings to our screens an unbeatable message, which seamlessly proves why the show is outstanding. Stay open—two vulnerable people will always find a way to connect. Vulnerability as the key to unveiling strength and the solution to maintaining nearly every relationship is something we’ve been screaming about for ages here at Marvelous Geeks; it’s the foundation of our website.

And for Shrinking’s “Imposter Syndrome” to address vulnerability while simultaneously taking a page from the book of subtlety by showcasing how the fastidious feeling makes its way into our daily lives is no small feat. Annie Mebane nails this show’s emotional and hilariously moving appeal with exceptional ease in an episode that’s all about trying too hard.

Shrinking “Imposter Syndrome”

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On an intriguing note, we might never be able to “shrink” imposter syndrome, which makes this episode that much more compelling in what it exhibits. “Our brains are a board room full of assholes,” Jimmy says aloud. It’s true, and at the top of the list is the one that tells us we don’t deserve to heal, be happy, or reap the benefits of what we’ve tirelessly tried to sow. Sean’s scenario is complicated because the more he opens up about his time in Afghanistan, the more it becomes apparent that no one was beside him before Jimmy. No one looked closely enough to understand that what he lived through brought colossal trauma in his life.

And that all changes with Jimmy even though both men have a great deal to learn and process because, like Paul says, “if you don’t face the pain, it’ll come back and get you when you least expect it.” That’s precisely what happened to Sean and why he’s here today, as well as what transpires with Jimmy throughout the episode. The therapist award might be a decoy for Brian’s proposal plan, but the feelings that arise during the party are anything but easy to avoid. So much of Jimmy’s grief is tied to the detail that he and Alice had frequently fought before her death. And while everyone believed them to be the perfect couple, no one knew what was happening behind closed doors, forcing him to spiral into a drunken stupor today.

©Apple TV Plus

While the fussy (and daunting) feeling might never entirely leave us, one of the solutions to imposter syndrome and accepting the truth is receiving the help that’s given. It’s what’s essentially happening with Sean, and it’s what we see occur at the end of the episode with Gaby showing Jimmy a different picture of Tia looking at him. Our brains take us down rabbit holes that are hard to dig ourselves out from. And as much as talking is an important step forward to dealing with those demons, listening goes hand in hand. Jimmy needed to really hear Gaby confirm that Tia loved him as part of his healing process. The rest—well, called that, but we’ll break it down some other time.

In the meantime, where imposter syndrome strikes hard here is also with Alice and everything she will ultimately have to deal with in the fallout of trying to kiss Sean. It’s great that the show establishes boundaries here, which will make her healing process much more worthwhile when she grows into herself more. And part of that growth is going to come from realizing that despite what other people say, she is in charge of her own agency, which at the very least, the episode grants her as much.

Stay Open

©Apple TV Plus

Harrison Ford deserves an Emmy for everything he brings to Shrinking’s “Imposter Syndrome” alone. The high highs and the low lows are, in short, inimitable. In the hands of a lesser skilled actor, the scenes might have needed more substance, but Ford’s comedic timing and his means of evoking a thousand words with a single expression are nothing short of remarkable. Paul going from intense, laugh-out-loud moments in an episode as chaotic as this to staying open results in one of the most brilliant transitions of a character journey I’ve seen.

And so much of it works because Paul doesn’t realize just how vulnerable he is at the moment. Telling his daughter about his diagnosis after going back and forth in “Potatoes” makes everything we see this week more brilliant because it serves as concrete proof of subtle yet challenging work coming to completion. Stay open is a line that will stay with me for a long, long time because it’s a reminder of how much more significant relationships can be with every party allowing themselves to be vulnerable. And for it to come from a character like Paul, who’s left so much guarded on the table as opposed to opening up, it allows the poignancy of the message to hit that much harder. It strikes deep because staying open requires tireless work to ensure that a person is transparent with themselves first to fully understand how they want to bear with others.

Shrinking as a series is ultimately about staying open, setting boundaries, and, more importantly, asking for help. It’s about understanding when the little things should become big things and directly implementing changes. Human beings are complicated, and there’s a long and winding road ahead for many. Growth isn’t a linear path, and neither is grief. But the willingness to keep trying even when it’s hard and long after we’ve made mistakes over and over again is why staying open matters.

Stray Thoughts

  • “So needy. Jesus.” Harrison Ford’s line delivers are too good. TOO GOOD. “What do you think raw dogging means?” YELLING.
  • Jason Segel kills me every time he thinks he and Alice have made progress.
  • This episode is every emetophobic person’s nightmare and I never want to see anything like that piano scene again.
  • It’s also good to see Alice still does 15 minutes of crying. I love it when a show understands the importance of continuity.
  • Alice’s reaction to Brian saying she looks like a princess versus Jimmy is hilarious.
  • I also need a drink or six after this party.
  • “Why are you here?” “I don’t know.” / “She tried to kill me.” THIS SHOW.
  • I love it when people forget Derek’s name. “The waiter’s a dick.”
  • “Ties are for wearing.”
  • “I need something crunchy and cheese flavored” is a default for me as well, Paul.
  • Absolutely called Gaby and Jimmy hooking up.
  • YAY BRIAN AND CHARLIE. We did it! Things didn’t go to plan, but we did it.

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


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