Therapeutic TV: 8 Scene-Stealing Shrinks
Apple TV+’s new series The Shrink Next Door is set to premiere on Friday, November 12, starring Paul Rudd as a psychologist who manipulates his way into the life of Will Ferrell’s character, his longtime patient. While we wait for the dark comedy, we’re booking appointments with the other psychologists who encouraged our favorite TV protagonists to share their innermost feelings.
For the round-up below, we’re focusing on supporting psychologist and psychiatrist characters — and, in most cases, more responsible practitioners — who had a knack for stealing every scene they’re in.
Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) in Ted Lasso
She may not have been charmed by Coach Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) daily biscuit delivery on Apple TV+’s award-winning comedy, but this all-business sports psychologist saw Ted at his lowest, formed a transformative bond with the coach, and helped him get back on the bicycle, so to speak.
Linda Freeman (Jane Lynch) in Two and a Half Men
Dr. Linda Freeman did not suffer fools gladly. And that included the CBS sitcom’s biggest fool, Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen). She also had a sardonic wit that only actress Jane Lynch could deliver. (For example, when Charlie expresses surprise that Linda remembers a detail from a prior session, she deadpans, “I’m not here sketching ponies, Charlie.”)
Noelle Akopian (Michael Hyatt) in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Hyatt (who was on Broadway for Ragtime) got her piece of the CW’s musical-comedy pie as Rebecca’s (Rachel Bloom) long-suffering therapist sang a Cabaret-style number in hopes that “Maybe This Time” this session with her problem client would be different.
Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) in The Sopranos
The therapy sessions between Melfi and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) on the HBO drama won praise from real-life therapists, with writers from the show receiving an award from the Western Regional Psychoanalytic Association for the depiction of the therapeutic process. “It’s the best representation of the work we do that has ever been in film or on television,” Dr. Philip Ringstrom, an analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, told The New York Times in 2001.
Dr. Wong (Susan Sarandon) in Rick and Morty
Dr. Wong didn’t bat an eye when scientist Rick (voiced by Justin Rolland) showed up to an appointment transformed into a pickle on the animated Adult Swim series, nor did she bat an eye when he attempted to dress down her profession. “I have no doubt that you would be bored senseless by therapy, the same way I am bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass,” she says. “Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is, it’s not an adventure.”
Andrea Bayden (Tina Fey) in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) therapist — played by Saturday Night Live vet Tina Fey, one of the Netflix comedy’s producers — is a buttoned-up professional… until, of course, she has a little too much to drink and starts crawling around, crying out, “Me baby! Baby no go night-night!”
Phil Gunty (Bob Odenkirk) in Arrested Development
Not only did Phil suggest some role-reversal role play to work through Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and Tobias Fünke’s marriage issues — with Bob Odenkirk reuniting with former Mr. Show costar David Cross — he even stepped into the role of Lindsay. Which he perhaps played a little too well.
Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) in Hannibal
What happens when a forensic psychiatrist — with a penchant for cannibalism — needs his own psychologist? Hannibal (Mad Mikkelsen) found a formidable sounding board and debate partner in Bedelia, who seems unfazed and perhaps fascinated by his dark impulses… until, of course, she became the subject of one.
The Shrink Next Door, Limited Series Premiere, Friday, November 12, Apple TV+