If you're looking for one of the best streaming comedies to watch right now, it's called Shrinking and it's on Apple TV+. It's so good that Harrison Ford, who plays one of the main characters, isn't even the best thing in it.
Shrinking currently has an 82% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and having watched 7 of its 10 episodes I feel that's perhaps a bit on the low side. Because while Shrinking is genuinely funny, it also has an emotional punch that's had me in floods of tears on several occasions. The first episode isn't great, but the show hits its stride in episode 2 and is consistently hilarious and often quite emotional throughout.
Shrinking isn't After Life, and thank goodness for that
Stop me if you've heard this before: a comedy-drama that focuses on a man whose apparently perfect life falls apart after the tragic death of his wife. After hitting rock bottom, the widower decides to change his life by being utterly honest with people.
Yeah, I thought it sounded like After Life too, and I nearly didn't watch it because I can't stand that show. But I'm glad I did, because it's different from After Life in one crucial way: it's good.
It's good because the cast is superb. Our anti/hero Jimmy is played by Jason Segal, part of a glorious ensemble that includes US comedians Jessica Williams and Heidi Gardner, Christa Miller (Scrubs), the aforementioned Harrison Ford, Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and new faces (at least to me) Lukita Maxwell and Luke Tennie.
Shrinking is essentially Ted Lasso in therapy, and it comes from many of the people behind that Apple TV+ smash hit. It's darker than Ted, though, with key characters variously wrestling with grief, post-traumatic stress and Parkinson's disease in among more conventional comic tropes. Jimmy in particular is an interesting character: just when he's at his most likable he'll do something that'll have you hating him.
It doesn't always work – some of the key plot moments stretch credulity a bit too much – but Shrinking largely gets away with it thanks to the sheer quality of the performances here. Harrison Ford in particular is a grumpy delight, but for me the show belongs to Jessica Williams. Williams is a firework in human form who lights up the screen every time she appears and whose character is much more interesting and important than the first episode might suggest.
I've been reading a lot of reviews of the show, and I think it's clear that Shrinking is the kind of thing that you'll either really love or just not get into at all – in much the same way I simply don't get the appeal of After Life, plenty of reviewers just didn't feel about Shrinking the way I do. But there's lots here to like, and I like it a lot.