The Shrink Next Door

Man smiling in front of chalkboard from The Shrink Next Door tv show





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

If you’re curious about what the creepiest parasite in natural world is, my pick would be the tongue-eating louse.

The name is fitting. The critter crawls inside a fish via the gills, detaches the fish’s own tongue, attaches itself to the stub and spends the rest of its life inside the swimmer’s mouth, working as the fish’s substitute tongue.

My second pick? It just might be Ike Herschkopf.

Physician, Heal Thy Bank Account!

Marty Markowitz let Ike crawl into his own set of metaphorical gills in 1982. Back then, Marty thought of the psychiatrist as a godsend. The fabrics manufacturer was just a little too nice for his own good.

“You let people use you,” Ike tells him. “I’m not going to let anyone use you. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”

Well, Ike was sure right about the first part of his statement. But what he really meant was, “I’m not going to let anyone but me use you.”

Nearly 30 years later, the psychiatrist has bilked Marty out of millions, become coholder of Marty’s Swiss bank account and taken over Marty’s Southampton estate. And when Ike hosts one of his frequent elaborate parties there, most of the guests think Marty’s just one of the hired help.

Crazy, right? Crazy enough to be the subject of a podcast. And now a television series.

Sigmund Annoyed

The Shrink Next Door is based on a true story, one that became a podcast in 2019 and was subsequently snatched up by Apple TV+. A-list comic actors Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd star as Marty and Ike, respectively, and WandaVision’s Kathryn Hahn plays Marty’s loving, estranged sister, Phyllis.

But the presence of all those comedic heavyweights is a bit misleading. While it might be funny minute to minute, the show is pretty depressing from episode to episode. The Shrink Next Door is a tragedy, not a comedy, for most of its run.

Also a bit tragic: the show’s use of profanity—unnecessary and distracting. And while we’ve not seen any sex or nudity at this early juncture, we still may: Ike allegedly forced Marty to break up with any girlfriend who came within kissing distance.

Because we’re talking about a scripted show based on a real story here, it’s probably important to note that New York’s State Department of Health yanked the real Isaac Herschkopf’s license to practice just two years ago—and many of his friends stand beside him.

But anyone who gets to know Ike Herschkopf through this show can come to just one conclusion: The dude was a parasite, plain and simple.

Interesting parallel, that. The definition of a parasite is one that uses another creature for its own benefit, and to the host’s detriment. Those who host The Shrink Next Door on their screens will certainly be benefitting Apple TV+. The benefits those hosts receive may be a bit dubious.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 12, 2021: “The Consultation”

Marty Markowitz has a problem: He’s just too nice. If someone comes into his fabric business and complains, he hides behind the fabric and, if he’s lucky, he doesn’t faint. He broke up with his girlfriend, but she’s still angling for a trip to Mexico anyway—and he’s on the verge of paying for it. Marty’s sister Phyllis convinces him to see Dr. Isaac Herschkopf, a psychiatrist who comes highly recommended. Marty doesn’t think he needs a shrink, but he goes. And before the session is over, the two storm off to confront Marty’s ex-girlfriend about that trip to Mexico.

After the visit (where Ike threatens to throw the woman in prison if she bothers Marty again), Marty is so ecstatic that he exclaims, “I feel like I’m on drugs!” (even as he admits he’s never done them). At a party, a number of people drink wine and champagne. Ike convinces Marty to pay for a couple of framed pieces of memorabilia for him (one a photograph of a D-list celebrity, another of a letter he wrote that was published in The New York Times).

Marty’s ex-girlfriend tells Phyllis that she needs to talk with Marty about something serious. “Are you pregnant again?” Phyllis asks, suggesting that the woman has lied about being pregnant before to stay together with Marty. Someone turns over tables, smashes stuff and buries a cow sculpture after a posh garden party.

Characters use the f-word six times, the s-word twice and hurl a few other profanities, including “a–” and “d–n.” God’s name is misused three times, twice with “d–n.”

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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