Friday, March 10, 2023

REVIEW: 'Shrinking' - Jimmy Accepts Parental Responsibilities Again While Gaby Sees a Well-Adjusted Nico in 'Boop'

AppleTV+'s Shrinking - Episode 1.08 "Boop"

Paul and Brian come to Jimmy's aid when Alice starts acting out. Liz and Sean support Gaby by accompanying her to an event.

"Boop" was written by Wally Baram and directed by Zach Braff

During a session with Grace, Jimmy details the importance of breaking patterns. In that particular situation, it's about disrupting the comfort of her abusive partner's coffee machine. Grace sees that as the root from which he gets angry about everything she does. It's an instance where he is perfect and she can't measure up to his expectations. She needs to take back her own agency. Jimmy has his opinions about this relationship. Grace avoided him because she thought he would be disappointed. However, he just wants his patient to be healthy and safe. He can't make these choices for her. He doesn't have that power. He still has his own agency as well. For a year, he was fine being numb to the world. He didn't have to be involved in anything because he was lost without his wife. That wasn't fair to his family or loved ones. He's reemerged trying to grasp that energy again. It's difficult because he never feels he has the right to be anything over than accepting and accommodating. Brian doesn't want his best friend to officiate his wedding. It's because Jimmy is a complete disaster right now. Brian and Charlie are happily in love and even look back fondly on their engagement party. Jimmy still threw up and ruined Brian's plans. He continues to apologize for his actions. As such, he doesn't believe he can be mad when Brian makes his intentions known. That's only bottling up his feelings. It's not expressing them in a safe way. This isn't going to ruin their friendship. It's not worth sharing a beer over either. Jimmy loves living in those extremes. It takes Paul pointing out the patterns for Jimmy to even realize they exist. He listens to his mentor because Paul is always right. Of course, Paul is still involved in an ongoing rift with his daughter. He's constantly calling Meg. He sees her as childish for refusing to answer the phone. Instead, he has to interact with the other members of her family. He would love nothing more than to be her father. He fears he has lost that for good. He hasn't. He's still short on time. Theoretically, Jimmy has plenty of that with Alice. And yet, he still has to step up as a parent every once and awhile. He can't just let his daughter do whatever she wants. She's making bad decisions. She is encouraged by them because she receives no punishment. She doesn't have a role model to follow. She doesn't treat her father as an authority figure. She doesn't believe she should listen to him. She does though. That hasn't changed even though her mother died. This is the right way to handle the situation. It sucks that Alice has been grounded. It's the appropriate punishment. She doesn't love her father for doing it. It's the right way to re-establish proper boundaries. That's what this family needs more than anything else. It's too awkward when Jimmy and Gaby sit Alice down to talk about their recent hookup. That's not normal. The place Jimmy arrives at later is. That's huge character growth. It's enough to crack a smile even though he's doing so while his daughter is mad at him.

Of course, everyone is on their own separate journeys. Gaby had complete clarity on what her hookup with Jimmy meant right away. Now, she's lashing out after seeing how well-adjusted Nico is following their divorce. She spent years forming him into the great guy he is now. She expects some credit for her efforts. She wants to be recognized as the muse for one of his art pieces. She also shows up to this art show without being invited. She wants Liz to accompany her and invites Sean along too knowing she can't show up with only a white friend. It's nice how easy and understanding these friendships are about race. At times though, these characters can come across as too self-aware and use that as a coping mechanism. They have the vocabulary to explain why they are feeling certain ways. As such, they use that information to playfully banter with people. It's on display when Gaby meets potential new friend, Aliyah. She's the person running this show. Gaby sees a future until she realizes Aliyah is already with Nico. She has become the beneficiary of what Gaby developed. That basically ruins things right away. It means Liz and Sean essentially have to apologize for their friend's behavior. It's nice to see Gaby explode like this. She doesn't have her life figured out. She's still adjusting because the divorce hits her in unexpected ways. It's what she wanted. She needed to feel comfortable moving on. Jimmy helped her in that way. She's grateful for the new friendships that have formed. She also still believes she has to support Nico. She can't allow him to spiral and potentially relapse because of the pressure of this show. And yet, that may have only been his behavior during their relationship. Things are going better for him now. That's what Gaby wanted. She just didn't expect it to happen more quickly for Nico. She wants that for herself. It's frustrating that she doesn't have it. And yet, she's the character the audience is invested in. Nico was never important to begin with. As such, he can have that immediate evolution offscreen. With Gaby, the story has to put in the work. It has the benefit of being more gradual. It allows Paul to say he works with people whose constant mistakes make him seem miraculous and insightful all the time. He's not immune from making mistakes either. He simply has the wisdom to know what to expect in these situations. Being a father is where he struggles because he has never prioritized that in his life. He has different motivations and expectations now. That may not always benefit Alice when she needs his advice. He's still there for the rest of this ensemble when they need it the most. That remains a constant. It's great for both humor and searing evaluations of where these characters are on their respective journeys. He serves in that way. It's a tad too transparent. The show doesn't lose sight of the humor along the way. So, it still works more often than not.