Something is off about Jean Holloway — and something is off with the new Netflix series Gypsy.
The latest psychological thriller from the streaming giant follows therapist Jean Holloway, played by Naomi Watts, as she spirals down a dark path. Desperate to help her patients, she becomes entangled in their problems. It ultimately ends up affecting every aspect of her own life, including her complicated marriage to her lawyer husband Michael, played by Billy Crudup, and her relationship with coworkers.
The premise is intriguing, but it's riddled with problems — the biggest being that Watts is absolutely dull in this role. For a therapist who is supposed to care so much about her patients that she gets involved outside of the office, Watts just doesn’t pull off that level of emotion.
Throughout the 10-episode first season, Jean uses the alias of Diane Hart to befriend the loved ones of the people she’s treating and begins to develop her own relationships with them. Diane gets a blowout every week with the estranged daughter of one patient, goes to a boxing class with the brother of an institutionalized former patient and develops a new favorite coffee spot — where the barista just so happens to be the ex-girlfriend of another patient. She slyly asks questions to get inside dirt and then offers her own two cents. And if her new “friend” doesn’t take the advice? Well, Diane manipulates the situation so that she gets what she wants.
The issue with this drama is that it's simply not believable that someone as robotic as Jean would go through such great lengths to help her patients. She's not charming or charismatic, and ultimately you're rooting for her to get caught when she starts crossing these professional boundaries.
And that brings us to the second big problem with Gypsy — it crawls at a pace that makes fellow Netflix series Bloodline appear action-packed. Jean’s therapy sessions are a snooze-fest. The conversations with her patients drone on so long that you begin to focus on her outfits (hats off to the costume designer because Jean’s wardrobe is one of the show’s rare bright spots) and the layout of her beautiful New York City office. Throughout the series you wait ... and wait ... and wait for her to get caught in a lie. A couple of tense, nail-biting moments occur, but it's only in the last episode that things really begin to unravel for Jean, and even then nothing major happens.
Sure, everyone loves a good cliffhanger — the optimal word there is “good,” though. And with approximately five separate storylines revolving around Jean, there should be some sort of dramatic climax in the final episode. But it never comes.
The one thing that saves Gypsy is actress Sophie Cookson, who plays the completely intoxicating Sidney. Sidney’s the ex-girlfriend of one of Jean's patients, Sam, and ultimately enters into a relationship with Jean's alter-ego, Diane.
Sidney is the perfect combination of cool, sexy and completely fucked up. She tells Diane an elaborate story about her life that may or may not be true, brings her to her ex-boyfriend’s apartment to steal a dog and meets her for early morning hookups in public restrooms — all without even knowing “Diane’s” last name. Honestly, I could watch a whole show just about Sidney. To be fair, Cookson and Watts do have good chemistry onscreen, which is the only aspect of Gypsy that might make the series worth checking out. Sidney and Diane are wrapped up in this coy game of cat and mouse, and even though you’re hoping for Sidney to find someone better (I was, at least), it’s only when she’s got her hands on Diane that you see some life in Watts’ eyes.
All this said, Gypsy does have some potential down the line if Netflix ends up renewing it for a second season. An intense storyline involving a drug addict patient named Alison only starts building momentum in the final episodes and that holds promise. Someone just make sure Watts actually shows up when she’s on camera.
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