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Michael Showalter is the director of the Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door. The show tells the true story of Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, a former psychiatrist who took advantage of his patient, Martin “Marty” Markowitz, for nearly 30 years. According to Showalter, Herschkopf’s behavior is similar to NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere‘s. Find out why. 

'The Shrink Next Door': Paul Rudd as Dr. Ike Herschkopf in the Apple TV+ series
Paul Rudd | Apple TV+

‘The Shrink Next Door’ is based on a podcast about Martin ‘Marty’ Markowitz 

Apple TV+ debuted The Shrink Next Door in November 2021. The series is based on journalist Joe Nocera’s podcast of the same name. 

Paul Rudd, who plays Herschkopf, and Will Ferrell, who plays Markowitz, are at the epicenter of The Shrink Next Door. The two first met in 1981, when Markowitz sought treatment for his mental health. At the time, he was overwhelmed having to run his family’s business and grieving the loss of his parents. 

Slowly, Herschkopf started taking advantage of Markowitz’s mental state and wealth. Over 30 years, Herschkopf successfully drove a wedge between Markowitz and his friends, family, and community. It wasn’t until 2010 that Markowitz finally cut the toxic doctor off. 

‘The Shrink Next Door’ director says Ike Herschkopf is similar to Keith Raniere and NXIVM

Showalter, who is best known for the Wet Hot American Summer franchise, directed the Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door. In an interview with Collider, the writer, director, and producer compared Markowitz’s situation with his psychiatrist to the members of NXIVM. 

“It’s just a very similar kind of thing of someone who’s in a weird place in their life,” Showalter said. “Maybe they had a breakup or they’re in between jobs and they’re not feeling happy in some way. They start going to this self-help program and [they say,] ‘Oh my god, this is great. Everybody’s so great.'”

In the late 1990s, Raniere began recruiting women into the “Dominus Obsequious Sororium,” which translates to “master over slave women.” In reality, “DOS” was a sexual slavery society. Like the members of NXIVM, Ike preyed on Markowitz and took advantage of him. 

“It’s sort of like a cult,” Showalter continued. “That’s what happens to Marty. He gets sucked in by Ike and by Ike’s confidence and enthusiasm, and charming qualities. But slowly, the relationship gets toxic without Marty understanding it.” 

After almost 30 years, Markowitz realized Herschkopf was taking advantage of him. “By the time he realizes how deep in he is, it’s too late,” Showalter concluded. “All of his lifelines [had] been used up.” 

Docuseries about Keith Raniere’s NXIVM 

Raniere started NXIVM in 1998 under the guise of a personal development company. He offered subscribers techniques for self-improvement and claimed the group put an emphasis on people experiencing more joy in their lives, but really he was grooming female victims for sexual enslavement.

Raniere was convicted on seven charges in 2019, including sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering. The disgraced guru is now serving time.

If you want to learn more about NXIVM, Raniere, and Smallville actor Allison Mack’s involvement in the cult, watch docuseries like:


‘Elf’: Where Is the Cast Now?

  1. The Vow on HBO and HBO Max 
  2. Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult on Starz and Prime Video 
  3. Uncover produced by CBC 

New episodes of The Shrink Next Door drop on Apple TV+ every Friday through Dec. 17, 2021.