Based on real-life events, and the subsequent podcast which followed, 'The Shrink Next Door' details the bizarre relationship between a psychiatrist and his patient. When Martin "Marty" Markowitz (Will Ferrell) begins to feel overwhelmed in his life, his sister Phyllis (Kathryn Hahn) suggests he see a shrink. After meeting Dr. Isaac "Ike" Herschkopf (Paul Rudd), the pair begin to strike up a close relationship, eventually blurring the lines between patient and friend. Set over a 30-year period, the series is essentially a story about one man's search for his voice, believing that this doctor is giving it to him, only for him to make a dark discovery...
It's hard not to instantly feel safe tuning into 'The Shink Next Door'. Two actors known for their heavy-weight ability to deliver a gut-punching one-liner or an over-the-top gag of physical comedy are here to greet you; just don't expect to see them play to their typecasting, which could be the reason why they're here in the first place.
Ferrell plays Marty, a "nice guy" who believes everything in his life is "fine". When we first encounter him, it's obvious that this guy is the epitome of a pushover, and has been pretty much all of his life. He's such a pushover in fact, that he's willing to pay for a holiday to Mexico for his ex-girlfriend because they agreed they would go before they broke up. Thankfully, his new therapist, Ike, makes him see sense. Initially, he helps him deal with this crazy ex-girlfriend and his stressful new role in his parent's textile factory.
However, after Marty begins to come up with some rather radical ideas in his work and personal life (thanks to Ike), his straight-talking and over-protective sister Phyllis begins to worry that this new doctor friend of his might be causing more of a hindrance to her brother than he realises. We won't go into details on how far down the rabbit hole that Marty ends up going, but take it from us - it's a perplexing story.
'The Shrink Next Door' is a drama with some comedic elements, as you would expect with Ferrell and Rudd (and Hahn) in the mix. However, the leading duo's character types will surprise you; for the most part, Ferrell is a meek, shy guy who is worlds apart from practically all of this past performances on screen; Rudd, meanwhile, who typically plays the wink-wink/nudge-nudge nice guy who you instantly want to be your friend, is an exploitative, unlikeable, money-driven man who is only out to help himself.
With all of this in mind, however, Apple's dramedy isn't as much fun to watch as you might hope. This is the true story of one man's life being slowly turned upside-down by a person who he thought was his best friend, and it's all rather bleak when you think about it. Imagine being duped for 30 years of your life and then seeing a great comedy actor like Will Ferell playing you on-screen; it doesn't really sit right. It vaguely feels like the series is making light of a horrible situation, all for the audience's enjoyment, and it feels somewhat uncomfortable.
At eight episodes, the series could have easily been whittled down to just six. The opening episode clocks in at 35 minutes, which gives us a succinct introduction to all of the characters; but when you've to slug through a 50-minute episode, you find that the story is stretching beyond its limits.
Nevertheless, with a strong and memorable cast and some pretty chilling undertones seen from the offset, 'The Shrink Next Door' delivers on what it sets out to do: tell the story of one man being duped for his entire adult life by his weird doctor friend.
Made up of eight episodes in total, the first three episodes of 'The Shrink Next Door' arrives on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 12.