June 30th, 2017
Originally I wasn’t intending to watch the rest of Gypsy for another few weeks when I’d run out of other things to catch up on. But almost immediately after I wrote my initial impressions, I thought I’d just watch one more episode… and here we are, less than a week later, and I’ve watched all ten.
That should give some indication as to how addictive this show is. I’m not saying it is particularly incredible or ground breaking, but the unravelling of the character’s lives and the constant anticipation it evokes was enough to keep me well and truly hooked.
Naomi Watts plays Jean Holloway, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, mother and wife working in New York City and living in Connecticut. Jean interferes with her patient’s lives and recovery outside of the office by adopting a persona, Diane Hart, and getting involved with the people most important to them. Initially, Jean’s motivation is ambiguous, but the intense relationships she then forms with these people greatly affect how she treats her patients. The risks she takes to live simultaneous lives become increasingly dangerous, and there is an overwhelming sense that it could all fall apart at any moment.
At the heart of Gypsy is the exploration of emotional power and manipulation, and the layering of lies we can find ourselves buried beneath. I stand by my original assessment of Naomi Watts in this—that she’s immensely irritating—but despite this, Jean’s complex personality is fascinating. That isn’t to say she’s likeable, not in the least, but the ambivalence of our feelings towards her only make the show more exciting. Is Jean a bad person, or just a sad person?
The development of Jean’s husband Michael (Billy Crudup) and his story is also intriguing. For a character who we cared very little for during the first episode, his daily struggles unveiled alongside Jean’s really help to fill out the story and give us a short break from Naomi Watts’ painful facial expressions.
Without saying too much, I have to mention that the conclusion of the series was a little confusing as well as disappointing. I won’t go into further detail, but I will say that it was episodes 6,7 and 8 that were the real highlights for me. By this stage it was hard not to become deeply invested in Jean’s lies, and I spent a good deal of those episodes with my eyes glued to the screen and my heart pounding.
There are a few other minor qualms I have if I were to be particularly critical. From the very beginning I found the amount of swearing extremely forced and annoying, and it doesn’t let up by the end. This kind of language doesn’t suit the characters at all, and though the intention may be to portray the drama or honesty, in actuality it comes across as awkward and unnecessary.
Another small issue for me were some of the continuity and editing mistakes. When a show has clearly gone to a lot of effort to look a certain way and have a very deliberate shooting style, those mistakes, such as objects swapping in a character’s hands between frames, are emphasised and can undermine this. If so much emphasis hadn’t been put on how arty the series was determined to be then it wouldn’t have mattered.
To conclude, Gypsy really was absorbing, and it was very easy to binge. The subject matter is jarring and the story eerie, but if you don’t mind being on edge for the rest of your evening then I highly recommend it.