The Biggest Unanswered Questions From The Shrink Next Door
Over the course of its eight-episode run, “The Shrink Next Door” told the true story of Martin “Marty” Markowitz, a man who was manipulated by his therapist, Dr. Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, into giving over his money and home, and even cutting off his own family over the course of their sessions. Based on a podcast by the same name, “The Shirk Next Door” is streaming on Apple TV+ and stars Will Ferrell as Marty and Paul Rudd as Dr. Ike and features some of their best performances to date.
However, in limiting itself to the true events of the account, the show seemed reluctant to fictionalize aspects of the story for the sake of streamlining the plot. As a result, there are several bizarrely unaddressed plot threads left hanging at the end of the limited series. A few tweaks here and there, however untrue, might have resulted in a more satisfying watch, but the shaggy dog version is what we have, so let’s break down a couple of the most obvious points the season fails to address.
What happened to Miriam?
In Episode 6 of “The Shrink Next Door,” Marty pushes Miriam (Sarayu Blue, who you may recognize from The Big Bang Theory), a woman he befriended at one of Dr. Ike’s backyard parties, into the pool at Ike’s suggestion. She is, of course, upset, and as Marty tries to make amends, she reveals that she, too, has been manipulated by the doctor and is trying to get him out of her life.
Marty loses his temper at her in one of Will Ferrell’s best moments on the show, affirming his dedication to Dr. Ike. Later, when Marty tells Ike he’s heading back to the city, Ike asks for a “favor,” which turns out to be a cruel ploy. Marty pays off the bus driver to fake a vehicle breakdown, then asks Miriam to accompany him to the gas station nearby. Once there, Marty ditches her, and when Miriam answers a ringing payphone outside, it’s Ike, telling her “I think you’re a very toxic person, and I don’t want to hear from you again.”
After ditching Miriam, Marty heads back to the bus and pays the driver, who coldly responds, “Don’t ever ask me to do that s*** again.” It’s a chilling turn of events, demonstrating how far Marty will go in service of his abuser, cutting off yet another person who tried to help him break free.
Strangely, though, the subsequent episodes never mention Miriam again. What happened to her after she was abandoned at that upstate gas station in the middle of nowhere? The show doesn’t seem to care, despite signaling to the audience that Miriam is worth caring about.
Did Marty's hernia ever heal?
Marty’s final straw comes when he has a hernia and requires surgery. Post-op, Dr. Ike never comes to visit, and an enraged Marty breaks free of the hospital prematurely to confront him, despite not yet being healed, and finds the therapist hosting yet another weekend soiree at Marty’s house. Late that night, Marty gets his revenge by trashing the backyard Ike curated for his party obsession.
He goes so far as to dig a ditch into which he dumps a gaudy sculpture Ike purchased in Chelsea. But as he digs, he reaches down to his groin and his hands come up covered with blood. Clearly, the sutures from his operation have buckled under the effort. Nevertheless, Marty persists, dumping the sculpture into the ditch.
Yet although the show shows us this scene twice (it is also the flash-forward that opens the series), Marty’s hernia is never mentioned again. Since he’s not in pain, it’s presumably healed, but in that case, why show us the blood at all? It’s a plot point leading to nowhere. The show forgets about it, but viewers probably won’t.