Joseph Gordon-Levitt made the TV show he always dreamed of making with Mr. Corman. After decades of acting, he set out to write, direct and star in a 10-episode comedy-drama that is a vivid depiction of what it’s like to live inside the mind of a lonely, 30-something man battling anxiety. While most shows distract viewers from their own thoughts and realities, Gordon-Levitt’s Josh Corman serves as a vessel for self-reflection that makes viewers face their own inner turmoil. Other movies and TV shows such as The Sopranos, Ted Lasso, and In Treatment feature characters who are struggling with panic attacks and different mental disorders that are deeply affecting their day-to-day lives. While we see many of them exploring their feelings, thoughts, and emotions with a therapist, we don’t really get to explore what happens inside of their minds when they’re experiencing these episodes. Josh is a fifth-grade public school teacher, who lives in a cozy apartment with a roommate named Victor (Arturo Castro) in the San Fernando Valley in California. His life is seemingly calm and normal, but reflecting on his failed music career and his relationship with his ex Megan (Juno Temple) leaves Josh full of angst. The regret he feels because life didn’t turn out the way he wanted is a feeling many people his age can relate to.
The show goes from following his mundane human experience to entering a fantasy world with larger-than-life dreamlike sequences that take place solely inside his brain. The show’s over-the-top fight scene alongside Bobby Hall (a.k.a. Logic), a musical number between Josh and his mother, and a recurring meteor that only he sees provide viewers with a look inside his mind. Those moments are a portrayal of what our brains are capable of in order to protect us from our own realities and how they can also terrorize us whenever we encounter a trigger. Gordon-Levitt knew that these scenes are what sets the Apple TV+ project apart from other comedies and dramas of this sort. “From the beginning, I always wanted the show to feel what it’s like to be inside a person’s head,” Gordon-Levitt told Complex ahead of the show’s season finale airing Friday, Oct. 1. “A lot of movies and shows show you something more objective and the audience becomes more omniscient. That’s of course one way to tell a story. But for me, that doesn’t feel that much like real life, because in real life we never get to go outside of our own heads. We only ever see the world through our two eyes and that’s it.”