Miniseries: ‘THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR’ Episodes 1-3 Review

“The Shrink Next Door” is an enthralling new limited series that puts its two leads, Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, in the forefront. It’s a story that is so hard to believe that it is crazy that it is actually based on a true story featured on a podcast of the same name.

Throughout the first three episodes of “The Shrink Next Door,” you see some progression in Martin’s character, played by Will Ferrell. If you’ve seen Ferrell in other movies or shows, you’ve likely seen his character, Martin before. While this oblivious man-child is preyed upon and taken advantage of like other characters Ferrell has played, it’s hard to be completely turned off by his antics because this character is sympathetic. Martin has a lot of baggage from his past, and his psychologist, Dr. Isaac Herschkopf (Rudd) brilliantly finds ways to pluck information out of him. For example, in the second episode, we see Martin have an anxiety attack during his Bar Mitzvah. He doesn’t look back fondly on these memories. Dr. Herschkopf convinces Martin to have another one for his 40th birthday, but it would seem as though Dr. Herschkopf just wanted to attend another party.

It’s nearly impossible to hate Paul Rudd, but “The Shrink Next Door” leaves you no choice. Credit to Rudd for taking on a role, as his usual charm is paired with a therapist with ulterior motives. When the audience first meets Dr. Herschkopf, he genuinely seems like he wants to help Martin. His first small victory with Martin is getting him to stand up against his ex-girlfriend; though it is more like Dr. Herschkopf doing the talking and reassuring Martin afterward. This is the mildest example of manipulation in the series, as with each episode, Dr. Herschkopf gets deeper and deeper into Martin’s psyche. Perhaps Dr. Herschkopf genuinely does care about Martin, but, like Martin, Dr. Herschkopf is also holding on to stuff from the past and the two share more similarities than what first meets the eye, and it seems like he is projecting his own failures and insecurities onto Martin. Rudd perfectly utilizes the charm he has in any other role with this fake facade. He’s like a car salesman, and as seen in later episodes, he sells Martin on a lot of decisions that he wouldn’t have otherwise made.

As weird as it sounds, the relationship between Martin and Dr. Herschkopf is similar to that of Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote in the “Venom” movies. At one point, Dr. Herschkopf says “Without trust, we have nothing,” to Martin after he learns that Martin’s sister (Kathryn Hahn) has been doing background checks on him. Speaking of Martin’s sister, Phyllis is a great foil to Martin’s relationship with his psychiatrist. She has to balance being the loving and protective sister with being an adult, as her relationship with Martin gets rocky. Hahn shines once again, with the best New York accent on the show, and is even better than she was in “WandaVision” earlier this year. Her breakout moment is when she confronts Dr. Herschkopf and is then put under his spell, spiller her guts, and then breaks out when he slips up.

The first three episodes of “The Shrink Next Door” are a promising start to the show. It sets up enough to keep you interested (and those cuts to the future create intrigue), and the third episode really hooks you and leaves you wanting to immediately start the next episode. A lot of the success can be credited to the limited series’ stacked cast, which absolutely comes through with an especially unique performance from Paul Rudd. It is an addictive show that keeps you glued as Dr. Herschkopf continues getting deeper into Martin’s head while simultaneously scaring you from ever sharing with a psychiatrist ever again.

“The Shrink Next Door” will premiere on Apple TV+ on November 12 with the first three episodes being made available. The final five will be released weekly.

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