PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF
Inspired by the eponymous 1982 Fleetwood Mac title track, the Netflix original Gypsy traces therapist Jean Holloway’s (Naomi Watts) struggles with commitment and her obsessive compulsion to control others (and live their lives). Overly fixated on her patient’s problems, Jean spends most nights on very unethical follow-ups, which allows her an escape from suburban life with her loving and loyal husband Michael Holloway (Billy Crudup) and nine-year-old daughter Dolly.
The visuals are effectively used to transform the viewer into a voyeur—watching Jean have sex with her husband from behind a closet door, or walking through her home as we listen to her voice. Jean’s obsession with Sidney, a patient’s ex-girlfriend, is made obvious right off the bat. To meet Sidney, Jean pretends to be a journalist. But despite the obsession, Jean’s romance with Sidney is so drawn-out, it seems like it’s never going to happen—perhaps this might have been a more convincing narrative, since Jean wants to be Sidney more than she wants to be with her. The show squanders this promising start, however, and begins to meander midway through the 10-episode series. When Jean finally does make her move, the viewer is more likely to feel relief than any titillation.
Jean thrives in her web of lies, steals quite comfortably, and masterfully manipulates everyone around her. As a therapist, she is well aware that displaying empathy and remorse will win her brownie points and she always uses that to her advantage.
Performances, including that of Poorna Jagganathan who plays Watts’ best friend and colleague, are convincing. But forced dialogue and plodding narrative fail to sustain the series over its full run.