In the past eight weeks, The Shrink Next Door took Apple TV+ viewers on a roller coaster ride of friendship, fraud and fish, telling the true story (based on the podcast of the same name) of Marty Markowitz (played by Will Ferrell), who eventually sued Ike Hershkopf (Paul Rudd). , his therapist of nearly thirty years, before taking over his business, his home in Hamptons, his whole life, really. Now the show is winding down as the saga is endured by stars Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell ends on a somewhat satisfying note. (Poor Marty. Lost all these years.)
We sat down with the writer and director of the show…succession‘s Georgia Pritchett and Search party and Wet Hot American Summer veteran Michael Showalter, respectively, who are also executive producers on TSND-to talk about the sad conclusion of the series and the personality cult of Paul Rudd.
The AV Club: This series only had an eight-episode sequence and it’s quite a story to get through in that limited time. Decades even. Georgia, how did you put 27 years of manipulation into these eight eps?
Georgia Pritchett: I wanted to spend a few episodes in great detail where the two men got to know each other because my whole approach was that this is like a marriage in a lot of ways. It lasted 27 years, which is longer than most marriages. So I wanted to show how the guys got to know each other to show where they were at that point in their lives, what they saw in each other and to really feel, “I could be Marty in this situation.”
We have all experienced death, problems at work and difficult relationships. So [Marty] was in a vulnerable spot. We’ve all been in a vulnerable spot in the last 18 months, so it feels like a universal story. So I tracked their relationship in terms of how they got to know and trust each other.
I think what works really well is that when you talk to the real Marty, the feeling of years rushes by. He just lost track of time. I think we tried to reflect that in the show by having the first four episodes all take place within a year, really, and then the next four, you race through time and suddenly one day he wakes up and asks he wonders what happened .
AVC: It’s not even that the things Ike says is bad advice, most of the time, at least during a session. It’s just the point where he goes too far. He crosses far too many boundaries.
general practitioner: I think my feeling was that he is a good therapist. He helps Marty and plans to do so. What I was interested in, instead of judging Ike or labeling him, was to show him as much compassion as I did to Marty. I didn’t want to look at Marty and think, “You’re gullible, you’re an idiot,” but think, “That could be me.”
So with Ike it’s not, “I think you’re a bad person,” but, “You’re a damaged person. Why are you behaving this way? There must be some pain. Something must be missing in your life, because nobody behaves like this unless there is a problem.”
AVC: Michael, when do you think it changed for Ike? When did the light bulb go on as far as when he realized what he could do with Marty?
Michael Showalter: Well, there’s the true story, and then there’s our retelling of it. In the story, in the episodes, it seems like Ike understands that Marty has some money. It seems as if a small light comes on in his head.
Do you agree, Georgia?
general practitioner: I think that’s right. Marty has many things that Ike would like to have. A house in the Hamptons, money, a business, a measure of respect, and Marty doesn’t value them. He doesn’t enjoy all those things. So I think that’s hard for Ike, seeing something he wants so much and seeing someone else don’t appreciate it.
MRS: Yes, because it’s the whole package from Marty that Ike loves.
It’s not just about the money or the actual money. It’s about the social positioning, having the house in the Hamptons, throwing parties and inviting the right people to those parties, having the foundation… it’s all an image Ike wants to have for himself.
With Marty, he has a chance to achieve all of that, but it seems that in the series, it’s when he learns from the house in the Hamptons that he seems to go from zero to 100 in terms of how he really gets caught up in it. that house.
AVC: Who can blame him? It’s a lovely house.
MRS: Believe me, most of my ambition is rooted in a desire to have a home in the Hamptons someday.
AVC: A lot of times when we see therapists portrayed on TV, they’re dangerous or creepy, and I often wonder if those images stop people from actually going to therapists. Georgia, how did you balance the idea that people who need therapy should go to therapy and there are great therapists out there versus the real fact that there are some bad outcomes? How do you balance that weight?
general practitioner: I don’t think this is an anti-therapy piece at all. We are all in favor of that.
I think we treat both men as human beings. So while Ike is a therapist, he is human. He’s had some difficulties. He has a complicated relationship with his father.
Our show is about two people and the effect they have on each other rather than specifically their relationship between patient and therapist. It’s much more about this friendship and how and why it goes wrong.
AVC: Michael, you have worked with Paul Rudd for a long time. When did you get to know each other and how did you develop this working relationship?
MRS: I think I remember exactly when it was. I did a show I had that was very, very off Broadway. It was a New York theater company called Club Thumb, and I, David Wain, and Joe Lo Truglio had written this play in 24 hours.
Paul Rudd was friends with Zak Orth because they were both in Romeo + Juliet, the Baz Luhrmann movie, and Zak was on this show. And so Paul came to see the show at the little theater where we were doing this thing.
This was way back in the 90s, and we just clicked. Then of course he was in Wet Hot American Summer playing against the type, what he wanted to do, to play the bad boy. And he completely stole the movie.
He’s just always been someone who was comically very like-minded. We know more or less the same people and we’d been talking about finding a project to work on together. We were both listening to this podcast and just thought, “Oh my gosh, there’s so much here. This could really be a perfect thing to work on together.”
AVC: It’s hard to imagine Wet Hot American Summer or Paul Rudd, really, without thinking about that scene where he has to pick up his tray in the dining room.
MRS: Now that I have kids, there’s always, “Clean up that thing you did,” and they do [it begrudgingly.] We always say, “Oh, she’s there, Paul Rudding,” or “She’s having a Paul Rudd moment with the puzzles,” or whatever. It’s the Paul Rudd moment.
AVC: The opening scenes for each episode changed as the vines, representing Ike, invaded different parts of Marty’s life. Why did you decide to do that and how did you develop it?
general practitioner: You know, it’s very hard in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. We’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve been through that, and I think it’s really hard to keep track of when things start to get unhealthy, which is why we wanted the title sequence to reflect that. It’s starting to look nice and cozy, with lots of greenery.
Ike always had loads of plants in his office and in his house, and we just loved the idea of these tendrils stretching out and taking over and enveloping and engulfing everything, because that’s the term Marty used to describe the relationship. He said it was almost like he was under a spell that kind of crept up on him and pulled him towards him without him really noticing, so we tried to reflect that in the title sequence.
AVC: This show really showcases a lot of the Jewish family experience, including bar mitzvahs, high holy days, synagogues, and so on. Why was it important to you to get all that on screen?
MRS: Their being Jewish is really a big part of who they are and a big part of this story is being a New Yorker, being Jewish and that community. It’s very insular.
It’s also a big part of the podcast and I think it was an important part of these characters. One of the ways Ike and Marty really come together is around being Jewish. It is the Jewish community and the foundation they start and the connections that are made through it, which is very important to Ike.
I think one of the really nice things about this story is its specificity. When I’m in the temple with them and hear them talk about it, I think it’s a very important element to who these people are, where they come from, and why they are the way they are.
Georgia talked about Ike’s relationship with his father. His father was a Holocaust survivor. It’s a very important part of who these people are as people. So it had to be part of the story.
AVC: Ike is a cult of personality, in the sense that he’s sort of a cult, but it’s one man. Have you ever been wiped out by someone like that before realizing it’s actually bullshit?
general practitioner: No, but I did talk to people who had been in cults as part of my research, and it felt like it resonated a lot with the kind of relationship America had just had with Trump in terms of the kind of the lies and the way where he had treated people and talked about people, so I’m really fascinated by that.
I think Paul Rudd was the ideal casting because he is so charismatic and would blow your socks off. And just when you started thinking, “No, this isn’t right,” he would win you over again. Towards the end I still said I would still go to Paul’s version of Ike as a therapist because he was so wonderful in so many ways. It was a great performance.