“Your husband is emotionally abusive, he’s not working on it, he doesn’t intend to. Just leave him.” For Jimmy Laird, a grieving therapist and an absent parent, his life is takes a dramatic turn as he does the unthinkable. Tells his clients what he really thinks (no matter how shockingly brutal). That is the premise of the new Apple TV+ comedy Shrinking, a surprising and brilliant take on mental health and the unorthodox relationships we hold.
In collaboration with How I Met Your Mother alum Jason Segel (who stars as Jimmy) and Emmy-winning executive producers behind Ted Lasso, Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein, arrives 10 episodes challenging how we perceive the darkest parts of ourselves. For up-and-coming actress Lukita Maxwell, she was enthralled by the script from the very beginning.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to get the role. I sent the audition like, ‘Okay! There it goes into the ether and I’m not ever going to hear anything back from this,’ because the script was brilliant,” Maxwell exclaimed to GRAZIA. “Every character was so colourful and Bill and Brett and Jason has outlined a pilot that – my brain was exploding with all of the different ways it could evolve into and where the story could go – I was stoked.”
Maxwell stars as Alice who is forced to grapple with life as a teenager while navigating an estranged father-daughter relationship with Jimmy, who struggles to find closure in his own grief. Alice is taken in by their overbearing neighbour Liz (played by Christa Miller) who steps in, in support of his downward spiral. The women’s relationship on-screen is uncanny off it. Appearing alongside each other in a joint interview Maxwell had nothing but praised for the accomplished actress: “She’s my role model. She’s a f**king bad ass.”
In the workplace Jimmy is joined by his boss Paul (Harrison Ford) and his close friend and fellow psychiatrist Gabby (Jessica Williams). When Gabby hands off a client to Jimmy – an Army veteran suffering from PTSD named Sean (Luke Tennie) – he forges an unlikely bond and sparks his road to recovery. For Williams, she hopes viewers realise “it’s ok not to be ok”.
“I hope viewers takeaway a couple of things from Shrinking,” Williams tells GRAZIA. “One, I just want them to enjoy it and I hope it feels cosy to them and I want them to sit on their couch and feel like they can connect with other people and laugh and enjoy and be sad and go one the journey with us.”
She continues, “Not being ok is just as valid as what is perceived of being good.”
In keeping with one of the main themes from Shrinking – where brutal honesty and compassion meet – I posed the same question to the cast (sans therapy, you should keep that secret). What is something you would tell your younger self if you had to be brutally honest?
“Stop caring what other people think so much. I’m still working on that, I’m still young,” Maxwell swiftly responded. Miller added, “Use more sunblock.”
For Williams it was staying away from Y2K trends (that now means you Gen Z). “I would take it back to 2004 and I know exactly what I would say… There was once a time in high school where we all listened to Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco! and I wanted to work against my hair texture,” she admitted through laughter. “Straighten it out, cut it with a razor, you know? Like, don’t do that!”
Shrinking is streaming on Apple TV+ from January 27.