“Shrinking And Growing” S1 / E5
- C+ Community Grade
The real letdown when watching Web Therapy is the very end. This isn’t because of being sad that the show has ended. It’s because the end credits always roll in between several bloopers-style outtakes of various scenes from the episode, featuring the cast members usually breaking into laughter mid-sentence while trying to deliver a line. It’s a crying shame that same loose fun couldn’t actually be injected into the show itself because it ends up being, hands down, the most entertaining part of the show otherwise.
In episode five, Fiona’s web therapy business is suddenly booming and there’s no immediate explanation as to why. Her inbox is being flooded with requests for three-minute appointments and video messages are piling up. Of course, she couldn’t be happier and can’t help but let her delight even seep into sessions with patients, being the poor professional that she is.
She tends to her newest clients, a porn star named Bryn and her Mormon boyfriend Justin, who we also learn has five moms. Realizing the two have more than just a jealous boyfriend situation to deal with, Fiona again zeroes in on the bottom line and begins suggesting they set up (and pay for in advance) numerous joint sessions with the boyfriend’s family members and Bryn’s porn co-stars. But before they can nail down the details for such a pricey venture, the two rush to sign off in a fishy move.
Alongside her IT helper Kamal (played by 30 Rock’s Maulik Pancholy) Fiona checks in with the Lachman Brothers receptionist Gina Spinks only to find her more interested in flirting than helping film the testimonial for the Web Therapy website. The scene itself descends into complete and utter ridiculousness when Spinks (played wide-eyed and terrifyingly dumb by Jennifer Elise Cox) hijacks the session to begin sexting with easily seduced Kamal, who she also calls “Slumdog Millionaire.” Though the comment is meant to highlight her wild stupidity, it only serves as a reminder as to how uncomfortable this show likes to get at moments.
The requests keep piling up for Fiona and before she can clean out her inbox, she learns exactly why: Bryn and Justin aren’t actually the people they’ve said they are. In fact, they run a series of websites “hilariously” exposing various professionals in their lives, with names like “CanYouBelieveThisIsMyTeacher.com” and “CanYouBelieveThisIsMyGyno.com” It looks like Bryn and Justin found Fiona strangely funny enough as a therapist to showcase her on her very own humiliation site CanYouBelieveThisIsMyShrink.com. Even after discovering the website, Fiona stays true to form. While mid-rant about suing the two for putting her on the website without her consent, she catches a glimpse of the page visits her site is getting — thanks to the couple’s enormous fan base — and makes an immediate grab to share the wealth. After all, her obsession with getting more eyes on her business seems to be what makes Fiona so completely one-note.
Fiona’s husband Kip is none-too-pleased at the assortment of loonies and half-naked weirdos who’ve begun filling up Fiona’s inbox with sordid pictures and videos. He demands she shut down the site, using his affiliation with it as grounds, and asserts that “someone who leaves you a message with their ass isn’t treatable.” But before we can have fun watching Kip and Fiona sort through the zaniness left in her inbox, it’s back to boring old Fiona hijinks, lickity split.
A beautiful and aggressively narcissistic woman named Robin arrives as a new client and manages to unnerve Fiona in the blink of an eye. The two have a nice verbal spar while dancing around their immediate mutual dislike of one another and call the other one old and/or ugly, only to stumble upon the uncomfortable realization that they know each other through Kip, of all people. To make matters worse, Robin is Kip’s workout partner at the gym and coolly informs Fiona that he has “firm hands.” It seems reasonable to guess this won’t sit well with Fiona, especially in light of his recent demand that she shut down her business.
Yet again, the show continues on a streak that leans heavily on overly heightened realities, unrealistic encounters and scenes that are only saved by capable actors. But it should be noted that Kudrow’s Fiona has become nearly unwatchable for much of the show. Her high-pitched voice would probably be less grating if Web Therapy itself were more fun to watch but it simply isn’t. Guest stars (like Jane Lynch on last week) can elevate the show leaps and bounds but an episode like tonight’s is a reminder it’s still a show built around an extremely unlikable protagonist with a rapidly meandering overall direction.