Can you guess how loud of a groan I uttered when that happened? Probably. I guess at some point I must have forgotten that Shrinking is operating within classic sitcom trappings. And thus, if there is any kind of chemistry between two (single!) characters, the laws of TV attraction (call them the “Sam & Diane” rules) dictate that they will be forced together for however long their intertwined storylines make sense. But we’ll get to that kiss later, given that, like famous sitcom kisses of yore (think Ross/Rachel, Jim/Pam), the reveal was teed up as a kind of mid-season cliffhanger.
Not that we’ll have to wait much to see whether Jimmy and Gabby (Jason Segel and Jessica Williams, who, yes, have great comedic chemistry) will realize that maybe, just maybe, dating their colleague with whom they share a practice doesn’t really fall under best practices. But first: a surprise proposal party!
I’ll admit, when Brian (Michael Urie) first floated the idea of surprising his boyfriend with a proposal, I assumed the episode would eventually hinge on him getting a “No,” forcing him and those around him to grapple with why maybe such a public display of affection was bound to backfire. (Honestly, wasn’t this a perfect opportunity for someone like Gabby—Liz, even—to talk about the emotional manipulation inherent in things like public proposals? But hey, we should just be happy Brian opted for a low-key surprise party with a piano performance and not, like, a full-on flash mob scenario.)
Ring Video Doorbell (Wired)
Two-way talk function
No need to leave the couch to answer the door anymore. Just pull out your phone and check the Ring app to see who’s there via the 1080p camera.
Alas, even that subdued piano performance (“Not a duet,” as Brian sing songs in annoyance) proved to be too much to handle. Not for his boyfriend—but for Jimmy, who truly couldn’t cope with every other person coming up to him and sharing truly tone-deaf comments about how he and his late wife were so excellent. Even if we hadn’t been given the various flashbacks where we see them struggling, it would’ve been clear from Segel’s nervy reactions that his grief is tinged not just with sadness but with guilt.
Because, as it turns out, Jimmy and Tia weren’t the golden couple everyone thought they would. In fact, to hear Jimmy tell it, she was this close to divorcing him right before she died (a statement Gabby rightfully disputes; she would have known!). Nevertheless, the reminder of all that could’ve been is too much for him to handle, especially during a night where liquor flows oh-so-freely.
Could I have done without the vomiting? Probably. But in cases like these, I let go of my own predilections given that Shrinking wanted a particularly embarrassing scene to really unlock Jimmy’s mishandling of his own grief and, well, few things beat “bodily fluids” in that regard. And hey! At least that meant Brian got a more low-key and intimate proposal out of the entire deal, no? (We still need more of his boyfriend turned fiance, though. Who is he? What is he thinking? Why is he so gullible to think there’d be such a thing as “best therapist”? Too many unanswered questions, if you ask me.)
But the entire party and the proposal all played backdrop to Jimmy’s slow unraveling. And, as it turns out, as preamble to that moment. To that kiss. Now, I don’t know that the team behind Shrinking is really eager to pair up Gabby and Jimmy. Yet I can’t help but be disappointed that still, in 2023, we find an American television series unable to accurately depict a friendship between a (straight) guy and a (straight) girl without flirting with the idea of turning them into a couple. (Do I need to start assigning The Bear to every TV writer around?)
- Oh, right! I didn’t even mention the Harrison Ford does Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Bridesmaids B-plot! Mostly because it felt borrowed from an entirely different series. The kind where “he got inadvertently high and acted a fool” is enough to provide the levity required as the main character digs deep into himself to realize (yet again!) he’s not really doing the work he needs to heal—or really, and more importantly, to help his daughter heal. And speaking of daughters, guess we’re seeing more of Lily Rabe next week as Paul’s daughter is set to arrive to help him deal with his Parkinson’s diagnosis and what that may mean for his future.
- “My brain is an asshole”—Sean, but also, every one of us who has taken any measures to improve their mental wellbeing. Because, boy, do brains find increasingly bizarre ways of messing with us when all we ever want to do is live a happy, healthy life.
- Speaking of Sean…guess we should be happy he has enough senses not to make out with Alicia. But that got uncomfortably close.
- Do we know where the sitcom trope of the middle-aged woman who is hilariously comfortable with her own low sexual libido came from? I mean, her name is Liz here as well, but I can’t be the only one remembering how 30 Rock basically created an entire recurring joke around Liz Lemon’s lack of sexual drive. At least it was here balanced by a positive portrayal of sex therapy and sex surrogates! (If ever so briefly, alas.)
- I mentioned last week how Shrinking was settling into its workplace comedy groove—even or, I guess, despite the fact that only three of its main characters actually work together. Which is, perhaps, why we’ve entered the Real Housewives-we-need-to-throw-a-party segment of the series: After all, the writers have to find new and exciting ways to bring together the likes of Liz, Alice, and Brian into the fold with as much efficiency as possible (even if it means upending what a normal day in the life of any of those characters looks like).
- Is Christa Miller the MVP of the show or is Christa Miller the MVP of the show? This should come as no surprise to anyone who enjoyed Cougar Town (or, if you really wanna go further back, The Drew Carey Show). More in tune with the overall tone of the show (or, really, the wild swings in tone the show demands), Miller is handily capable of lobbing a great big one-liner your way and playing high and drunk with such ease you almost wish we’d get an entire episode where we follow her collecting and sanding down rocks.
- I know we were all thinking it, but what in the hell was Brian wearing on his neck? Was that a pseudo-pearl choker we were subjected to? Oof.
- So, are we far enough into the show that we can talk about the opening credits? Am I reading the imagery correctly in that someone clearly carrying a red flag(!) is guiding everyone out of the maze using what feel like needless shortcuts? Is there a kinder reading to be made here? Am I reading too much into what’s a pleasant enough animated sequence about a hedge maze in the shape of the show’s title? Maybe. But still.