Bill Lawrence’s Original Pitch For Shrinking Was Shut Down For Being Too ‘Bleak’

Bill Lawrence’s Original Pitch For Shrinking Was Shut Down For Being Too ‘Bleak’

More than 20 years before “Shrinking” premiered, the first season of “Scrubs” hit the small screen, and Bill Lawrence proved that the line between tragedy and comedy was very thin and remarkably easy to walk. The first episode featured JD (Zach Braff) dealing with the death of a patient, and things only got worse from there. Basically, every main character eventually had to deal with the death of a close friend, family member, or especially beloved patient, and the whole relationship drama was much more difficult than the usual sitcom. When Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) went through early marital struggles, they sometimes felt genuinely insecure about whether their marriage would survive.

And yet, it was also one of the funniest shows on television, and sometimes the funniest episodes and the saddest episodes were one. Season 6’s “My Long Goodbye,” which follows Carla as she struggles to cope with the untimely death of her good friend Laverne, features some of the funniest jokes in the entire series, without ever undermining the tone. Fantasy sequences have always been used as a fun escape from reality, so they’re especially welcome in episodes where the reality of the situation is too much to bear.

Since “Scrubs” ended after eight (and only eight) seasons, the popularity of TV shows that bridge comedy and drama has only grown. The premise of “Shrinking” still feels like a risk, but with the popularity of shows like “Bojack Horseman,” “The Bear” and “Barry” — all of which go to dark places despite technically being comedies — the so-so-far success of “Shrinking” comes into its own.

“Shrinking” is streaming on Apple TV+.

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