Heading into “Gypsy,” the new Netflix original series starring Naomi Watts, there was a lot to be excited about. Watts, first and foremost, was the main reason to anticipate the 10-episode “psychological thriller,” but the first season also stars the great, under-appreciated talent of Billy Crudup, an actor who’s given the best supporting performances of his career in female-centered films like “20th Century Women” and “Jackie.”
And “Gypsy” is a story driven by women: Watts carries the weight of the series as Jean Holloway, but she’s surrounded by a largely female cast and crew: Sophie Cookson, as the mysterious love interest, Sidney; Lucy Boynton as Jean’s troubled patient, Allison; Poorna Jagannathan as Jean’s best friend and co-worker, Larin; Brenda Vaccaro as a worried mother and patient named Claire, and, of course, series creator Lisa Rubin and premiere director Sam Taylor-Johnson.
But once you get a few episodes into the mysterious, softly lit Season 1, it becomes clear there’s not a lot going on in “Gypsy.” Jean takes a few risks here and there as a therapist, but nothing comes of it. Her desire to be with Sidney — a woman she meets through a patient, Sam (Karl Glusman), who just broke up with her — is just that: desire, unfulfilled. We take little baby steps toward an eventual hook-up, but the only dramatic weight is whether or not Jean and Michael’s marriage can survive her temptation (and we’re not given a good reason to care about that marriage, given Jean only seems to half the time).
That unfulfilled desire applies to the viewing experience as a whole. It’s infuriating how little happens in “Gypsy” with such a great cast, and it’s even more difficult to sit through given how sparingly but consistently we’re teased with big secrets in Jean’s past. But, if you’re like so many other viewers out there, you might have stuck with “Gypsy” because you believed something, anything, had to happen eventually. And there were seeds scattered oh so sparsely through the first half of the season, which resulted in the following questions:
- Why does Jean have a secret apartment in the city?
- What really happened with Jean and her patient, the one who was just released from a mental hospital after burning down her family’s house?
- What really happened with Sydney’s dad? Was he arrested and thrown in jail, or did he die when she was a kid?
- Why is Michael such a smart guy who does such stupid things? (Stop drinking with your assistant who’s obviously in love with you, Michael!)
- Why is Jean so bad at keeping secrets? (Seriously, how many times does she admit something she heard in a session to the exact person she can’t admit it to?)
Perhaps these questions were enough to keep people watching, but equally compelling is the simple desire to find out what the heck “Gypsy” is actually about. It can’t possibly just be a story about a therapist who gets a little too personal with her patients and maybe, kinda cheats on her husband. That’s just…so boring. And this is Netflix, the company that made a name for itself by letting Kevin Spacey push a lady in front of a train; the streaming giant capable of producing “BoJack Horseman,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Bloodline” Season 2 — all great, gasp-inducing dramas. Heck, even “The OA” was shocking in its confounding story.
So we finished it. And hot damn did “Gypsy” finally… not really answer anything.
Continued on next page: More on than final episode pay-off