‘The Shrink Next Door’ follows the remarkable tale of a psychiatrist who slowly begins to take control of his patient’s affairs. What starts off as a normal doctor-patient relationship between Dr. Isaac Herschkopf and Martin “Marty” Markowitz soon spirals into a bizarre dynamic between the two men that continues for thirty years!
In addition to the two central characters, their partners and families are also affected by this strange codependence between them. Apart from Marty’s sister, we are also introduced to his ex-girlfriend, Deborah, and the doctor’s wife, Bonnie Herschkopf. Though the story of Marty and the psychiatrist have some interesting connections to reality, what about Bonnie and Deborah? Are their characters based on real people as well? Let’s take a look!
Are Bonnie Herschkopf and Deborah Based on Real People?
Bonnie Herschkopf is introduced as the ambitious Dr. Herschkopf’s kindly wife, who supports her husband even when he veers close to unethical practices. In the show, she dutifully attends events with the doctor, listens to him practice his speeches, and only gently asks him whether it is usual for a psychiatrist to plan his patient’s bar mitzvah.
In real life, not much is known about Dr. Herschkopf’s wife apart from her involvement in some of Marty’s affairs, along with her husband. According to Marty, in 1984, his doctor at the time convinced him to create a philanthropic foundation, of which he (Dr. Herschkopf) and his wife were officers. What is more remarkable is that Herschkopf then compelled Marty to leave his significant fortune to the foundation.
Ike also allegedly insisted that Marty leave his luxurious Hamptons estate to his wife, saying, “Becky loves the Southampton property, so I think it’s only right you leave the property to her.” It is unclear just how active a role Becky, or Rebecca (for that is her real name), played in Dr. Herschkopf’s affairs. Hence, her character on the show, named Bonnie Hershkopf, is likely based on a fictional template, and the real Rebecca Hershkopf seemingly keeps a low profile at present.
Deborah is introduced as a belligerent character on the show who is Marty’s ex-girlfriend. After a recent breakup, she follows Marty around, demanding he pays for her trip to Mexico like he promised (when they were together). The soft-spoken Marty is petrified of the fiery Deborah and is helped by his sister Phyllis and Dr. Herschkopf in standing up to her. In reality, Marty had broken up with his fiance the year before he met Dr. Herschkopf and was still struggling with the fallout. The breakup came about because his fiance, whose name remains unknown, reportedly refused to sign a prenuptial agreement with Marty.
Hence, the show’s narrative seemingly veers off from reality, and the character of Deborah is also likely based on a fictional template. She is introduced on the show to effectively show audiences how even those who claim to be closest to Marty continue to try and exploit him for his wealth. Hence, as with the case of Rebecca Herschkopf, very little is known about Marty’s actual former fiance, and it is likely that she has also chosen to remain out of the limelight in recent years.