Is Shrinking’s Jimmy Laird Based on a Real Therapist?

AppleTV+’s ‘Shrinking’ is a comedy-drama series that revolves around Jimmy Laird, a grieving therapist. The series is created by Brett Goldstein, Bill Lawrence, and Jason Segel. It follows Jimmy as he breaks the ethical barriers of his job to give direct advice to his patients, drastically affecting the lives of those around him. As a result, the out-of-the-book premise explores the world of psychiatry and therapy with a humorous tone. Given the show’s rooted nature and realistic tone, viewers must wonder if the protagonist Jimmy Laird is based on a real person. If you are looking for answers about the inspiration behind Jimmy Laird in ‘Shrinking,’ here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Who is Jimmy Laird?

Jimmy Laird is the protagonist of ‘Shrinking,’ with actor and co-creator Jason Segel playing the role. Segel rose to prominence with his performance as Nick Andopolis in the critically acclaimed but short-lived NBC comedy-drama ‘Freaks and Geeks’ created by Paul Feig. In the mid-2000s, Segel became a household name with his portrayal of Marshall Eriksen on the CBS sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ appearing across its nine seasons. He later transitioned to starring in films with romantic comedies such as ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and ‘I Love You, Man.’

Segel is a series regular on ‘Shrinking,’ which he also helped co-create. In ‘Shrinking,’ Segel’s Jimmy Laird is a therapist who is grieving the loss of his wife. However, his grief drastically affects his relationship with his daughter, Alice. Meanwhile, Jimmy becomes disheartened with the lack of progress his patients are making and openly expresses his real feelings to them. Not only does Jimmy break the ethical barriers of his job, but he also has a profound effect on the lives of his patients and friends while healing from the loss of his wife.

Is Jimmy Laird Based on a Real Therapist?

No, Jimmy is not based on a real therapist. The character is a fictional creation from the show’s makers who serves as the narrative focal point. In an interview, co-creators Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence, who collaborated on the critically acclaimed comedy-drama ‘Ted Lasso,’ revealed that they were toying with the idea of a comedy show about a therapist’s life. Later, the duo combined the ideas to give birth to ‘Shrinking.’ However, the makers always intended to portray therapy and mental health issues authentically despite the show’s satirical tone. Therefore, it is likely that they consulted with actual therapists while writing the character of Jimmy.

In an interview, Segel stated that his character’s ability to openly express his thoughts and give advice to those around him attracted him to Jimmy. However, the actor also noted that this aspect of the character is wish-fulfillment. The actor elaborated that Jimmy’s actions are ethically questionable, given his profession. However, he also feels that there is no right or wrong advice a person can give in any situation. Therefore, his character makes mistakes and learns from them. As a result, the character is humanized, and viewers can easily relate to Jimmy. Similarly, dealing with grief and loss through humor is the show’s primary theme. Thus, viewers can empathize with Jimmy’s struggles making the conflicts he faces interesting despite the fictional nature of the character and the narrative.

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