Sylvia and I have been watching Shrinking on AppleTV+. It's a show about three therapists dealing not only with their patients, but their own traumas: Jimmy (Jason Segel), who lost the love of his life and can't effectively deal with his grief, hurting his teenage daughter in the process; Gaby (Jessica Williams), who is going through a divorce; and Paul (Harrison Ford), recently diagnosed with Parkinson's and reconnecting with his grown daughter under difficult circumstances.
Shrinking is a comedy set against grim circumstances, and it's quite funny indeed, but the humour has undertones of sorrow and loss. Despite the pain I feel watching these characters suffer, I keep watching because the overall tone is hopeful and helpful; everyone in the show, even the patients, are as much about helping each other as they are about being helped. It's really quite lovely.
Plus, Harrison Ford is great when he's truly invested in a role, and I think he's found something here that really interests him. He's still the same, dry, Harrison Ford, but he's also letting himself be vulnerable and even a bit frail. It's working for him.
Watching shows with relatable psychiatrists in them with Sylvia must be something great. I've wondered how come you've never gone through The Sopranos with her (unless I'm out of date and you have, in which case my apologies).
Actually, Jeff, your comment is very timely, because I finally started my long-promised Sopranos watch with Sylvia back in December, and we're now about one-quarter of the way through season six. It's been quite a ride.
Dr. Melfi makes the Sopranos great. She gives us the insight we need to try to understand Tony Soprano, something like our own personal Greek Chorus. Tony is such a complicated and conflicted character, he needs more than a Goodfellas-style voiceover to explain his mindset.
What sets Dr, Melfi apart is that she has her own therapist to help her deal with her own issues. Dr. Kupferberg allows her to reset her own moral compass, which is something we as the viewers need as we descend farther into Tony's underworld. It also helps to break the impasse in character development that we get when Tony Soprano's and Dr. Melfi's personal relationship has progressed as far as it reasonably could.
I was thinking this was unique to The Sopranos, but then I remembered Dr. Sidney Freedman from M*A*S*H. Now that was a trailblazing psychiatrist. He opened a window for the viewers into the heart of Hawkeye Pierce, who was becoming increasingly unstable as the Korean War dragged on. Sidney Freedman didn't have his own therapist, but he did write letters to Sigmund Freud - a foundational conceit to the relationship between Dr.'s Melfi and Kupferberg.
I love that kind of television!
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