The true story behind dark comedy The Shrink Next Door

The Apple TV+ miniseries is based on a podcast of the same name, exploring the relationship between patient Martin Markowitz and his therapist Dr Isaac Herschkopf.

Will Ferrell Shrink Next Door

Now this is one connection that proves dangerous.

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Dark comedy-drama The Shrink Next Door is being shown on Apple TV+ and features Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd in its central roles.

This miniseries, which was created by Succession‘s Georgia Pritchett, follows overwhelmed New York fabric seller Marty (Ferrell), who starts seeing therapist Ike Herschkopf (Rudd), after Ike was recommended by Marty’s sister Phyllis (Kathryn Hahn).

However, just as Ike begins to embed himself into Marty’s life, he finds himself becoming more isolated from those around him and bankrolling the lifestyle of the glamorous Ike.

The Apple TV+ series is based on a Wondery podcast of the same name from Joe Nocera, which looks at the real-life relationship between Martin Markowitz and Dr Isaac Herschkopf.

However, just how accurate is the show and what happened to the therapist and patient after the events of the show?

Here’s everything you need to know about the real-life events behind the series The Shrink Next Door.

Is The Shrink Next Door based on a true story?

Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door is based on Joe Nocera’s true-crime podcast of the same name, which explores the 30-year relationship between Isaac Herschkopf and his patient Martin Markowitz and how therapist Herschkopf managed to slowly take over Markowitz’s life during that period.

They met in 1981, when a 39-year-old Markowitz was recommended Herschkopf as a therapist by his rabbi. Markowitz, who was running his family business Associated Fabrics Corporation and was a millionaire as a result, had begun to feel overwhelmed by his company responsibilities, the family issues that had arisen over control of the business, his fiancée leaving him and the deaths of his parents.

Martin Markowitz
Martin Markowitz
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He started seeing Herschkopf as a patient three times a week and within two years, Herschkopf had managed to insert himself into his life, according to Markowitz, who told The Times of Israel that he “very quietly started pouring salt into my open wounds”.

As explored in the podcast, Herschkopf convinced Markowitz to fire his sister from their family company and disinherit her from the business, after which he was isolated from the rest of his family, and asked him to include his wife Becky in his will. He also asked him to create a private foundation – the Yaron Foundation – which benefitted Herschkopf and his family, and even had himself listed as a co-owner of Markowitz’s bank account, which contained $2.5 million.

According to Markowitz, Herschkopf wouldn’t let him have a girlfriend and convinced him that he was the only one to be trusted, telling Forward: “He would say, ‘Everyone is out to get you, I’m going to protect you.’ And I was stupid enough to buy it.”

In 1986, Herschkopf convinced Markowitz to buy the house next to his Southampton home, after which he took over the place and moved his patient to the guest quarters, banning him from storing food in the main house. Markowitz would later change his will to make Herschkopf’s wife the sole recipient of the entire estate and gave Herschkopf power of attorney. The therapist would throw huge parties, inviting celebrity guests, with Markowitz telling the podcast: “People thought I was the caretaker.”

Markowitz ended his relationship with Herschkopf in 2010, after undergoing a hernia operation and realising that Herschkopf had made no effort to reach out. Markowitz eventually wrote Herschkopf and his wife out of his will and reported him for malpractice.

What happened to Isaac Herschkopf?

The Shrink Next Door podcast, which was published in 2019, found other patients of Herschkopf’s who claimed they had also been manipulated by him, with one particular patient named Judith alleging on the show that he had urged her to cease contact with her mother and convinced her not to attend her funeral.

After the podcast was published, the New York Department of Health launched a two-year investigation into Herschkopf’s practices and in April 2021, his medical licence was revoked.

The 70-year-old was found guilty of 16 charges of professional misconduct, which included fraudulent practice, exercising undue influence, moral unfitness and negligence.

Last week, Herschkopf told The New York Times that he plans on appealing the ruling.

What happened to Marty Markowitz?

Martin Markowitz at the premiere for The Shrink Next Door
Martin Markowitz at the premiere for The Shrink Next Door
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After cutting Herschkopf out of his life and reporting him for malpractice to the New York State Department in 2012, Markowitz got back in touch with his sister after 27 years.

Markowitz is now 79 years old, and after retiring and closing his family business, he wants to travel the world with his girlfriend, he recently told Forward. He added that he’s “much happier now” than he was when a patient of Herschkopf’s. “It’s my 40-year ordeal. It was 29 years under his power and 11 years seeking justice. I finally got it.”

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The Shrink Next Door is available to stream on Apple TV Plus. You can see The Shrink Next Door cast in full here. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide.