‘The Shrink Next Door’ on Apple TV+ follows the remarkable story of a doctor who purposely inserts himself into the life of a patient for many years. The comedy-drama series, based on the podcast series of the same name by Joe Nocera, centers around two main characters— Dr. Isaac Herschkopf and Martin “Marty” Markowitz, who develop an intriguing years-long dynamic after initially just meeting for therapy sessions.
Episode 1 of the show, titled ‘The Consultation,’ introduces us to both of them, as well as their immediate family. We are also given glimpses into their past and the first interaction between the psychiatrist and his patient. There’s an intriguing tale that’s forming, so let’s make sure we’ve got all the details from ‘The Shrink Next Door’ episode 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Shrink Next Door Episode 1 Recap
The show opens in 2010 in the midst of a crowded party. The host, Dr. Isaac Herschkopf, talks and jokes with his guests before spotting a celebrity in the crowd. He rushes over to get a picture with her and orders a scruffy man to take it. We then see the same scruffy man at night, surrounded by the debris of the party from the day, breaking things in frustration.
The narrative then shifts to 1982, where Marty, having recently taken over his father’s drapery business, struggles to gain the respect of his colleagues. The soft-spoken, exceedingly polite Marty is bullied by customers and hounded by a recent ex-girlfriend who claims that he promised her a trip to Mexico and keeps showing up to collect. After getting a panic attack while speaking to a customer, Marty is urged by his protective sister, Phyllis, to go see a recommended psychiatrist named Herschkopf.
During his session, Marty claims that he is perfectly fine and cannot understand why his sister wanted him to see a doctor. However, the sharp and confident Dr. Herschkopf quickly notices that his newest patient is under a lot of pressure and is too timid to stand up for himself. He helps Marty confront his ex-girlfriend, making the soft-spoken man giddy with joy. Soon enough, Marty begins to visit the psychiatrist regularly.
The Shrink Next Door Episode 1 Ending: Is Marty Working for Dr. Herschkopf?
After confronting his ex-girlfriend, Herschkopf explains to Marty that he is too nice and lets people take advantage of him. The doctor then promises to help Marty, which makes the nervous man extremely happy. The two hug and Herschkopf points out a few pop-art sculptures of cows, saying he will buy them someday. The episode then closes back in the year 2010, where the scruffy man, revealed to be Marty, is seen burying one of the expensive cow sculptures.
Though the timeline from 1982 shows us a version of Marty as a timid but well-to-do man who has just taken over the family business, in 2010, he seems to be part of the help at Herschkopf’s party. From the way the host orders Marty to take a picture and pick up wet towels, it seems clear that their relationship is very different from when they started out as doctor and patient.
During the time that they have known each other, it seems as if Marty has lost most of his considerable fortune and is now inexplicably helping out at Herschkopf’s parties. Knowing his overly agreeable personality, it’s quite likely that Marty is not technically working for the doctor but carries out his orders anyway. Somehow, from being the one who promises to help Marty overcome bullies, Herschkopf has turned into the one taking advantage of his patient.
What is Ailing Marty? Is Dr. Herschkopf Helping Him?
Marty suffers from debilitating panic attacks whenever someone pressurizes him excessively. He is very soft-spoken and is unable to say no to even those (like his former girlfriend) who are blatantly trying to exploit him. Dr. Herschkopf doesn’t give Marty an official diagnosis but only says that his patient is too nice. This is also echoed by Marty’s sister, who repeatedly stands up for her brother because she says he is too kind to people.
Though the source of Marty’s panic attacks is not yet discussed, his frustration is apparent. When he finally opens up to Herschkopf, Marty reveals that apart from his recent breakup, he is also being sued by his uncle, who claims that his soft-spoken nephew is unfit to run the family business. Though it initially seems like the doctor plans on helping Marty, it later begins to appear like he, too, ends up taking advantage of the seemingly timid man.