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Therapists are supposed to be a professional that you trust to give you an unbiased view of your life. They’re a person who is not a part of your day-to-day life that for about an hour a week helps you develop a positive outlook on life and to make changes on your own. Several boundaries are in place to make this type of relationship possible: there is no friendship, you don’t hang out with your therapist, and they definitely don’t go to your work or plan your Bar Mitzvah for your 40th birthday. Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf (Paul Rudd) goes against all of this when he implants himself in Martin “Marty” Markowitz (Will Ferrell) life to take advantage of him.
Based on the Wondery podcast by the same name, the show opens up to 2010 with Dr. Ike living the high life with celebrity friends like Lisa Rinna. We then see someone destroying his backyard after that party.
Flashback to 1982: Marty runs his late father’s fabric business. He’s high strung, anxious, and currently hiding from his ex-girlfriend who believes owes him a vacation to Mexico. He works with his sister, Phyllis (Kathryn Hahn), who is more outspoken than him. After literally hiding behind fabric to avoid having to deal with a disgruntled customer, he agrees to go to see a therapist his sister suggested.
We meet Dr. Ike, a therapist with a rundown, cluttered office who conducts most of his therapy sessions behind a desk. After seeing that Marty is nervous, he suggests going on a walk. After talking and exploring the neighborhood together, Dr. Ike stops at a photo shop to pick up a picture. Since he claims to forget his wallet, Marty offers to pay for the sessions now. Dr. Ike says that they went over 15 minutes, so it will be two hours instead of one. This is one of the first signs that Dr. Ike isn’t on the up and up since he’s suggested the walk and didn’t announce the session was going over. After helping Marty confront his girlfriend in person by telling her that Marty won’t be paying for the Mexico trip, Dr. Ike says that Marty lets people take advantage of him and that he’s going to help him change that.
Instead, he continues to take advantage of Marty and tried to live vicariously through his to fulfill his own desire for money and power. He coaxes Marty into re-doing his Bar Mitzvah for his 40th birthday, mostly because Dr. Ike himself was unsatisfied that his parents couldn’t afford to throw him a lavish one. He connects Marty to a Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar to make the drapes, but suggests he cuts corners on the quality of work in order to save money, and holds a seminar to Marty’s work while charging Marty for the seminar and for all his canceled appointments in order to do it. Phyllis is questioning Dr. Ike’s professionalism and his lack of boundaries and even Dr. Ike’s wife, Bonnie (Casey Wilson), questions if his actions are allowed. But Marty is loving Dr. Ike in his life. He starts dressing and talking like him and offers him a consulting role at his company, much to the dismay of Phyllis.
After seeing how well off Marty is after visiting his house in the Hamptons, you see how jealous of Dr. Ike is. A spark goes off and he knows he can take further advantage of Marty. He tells Marty that being rich is his problem and everyone, including his sister, is taking advantage of him. Helpless, Marty, asks what he should do. Dr. Ike says that he will take care of it, which will obviously lead to him taking further advantage of Marty.
It is interesting to see these typically comedic actors playing darker roles. While they infuse the show with a bit of humor, the show is a true-crime story. It is also great to see Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell together in another period piece. Instead of the 70s like Anchorman, it’s the 80s. While I think they’ll both incredible in their roles, it also believe they could switch characters and it would be just as good.
The first three episodes of The Shrink Next Door are available on November 12 on Apple TV +, with new episodes every Friday.
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