There are certain actresses that I expect to do what Naomi Watts has done in Gypsy, mainly to play a lesbian love affair or a lesbian character so realistic as she does, for she has “antecedents” – Mulholland Drive (2001)
“I asked her if she would diagnose Jean as having a disorder,” Rubin said. “But she said everybody falls on different spectrums of different disorders, and she didn’t think Jean was diagnosable, and I agree. This is not a story about a woman with a mental illness . . . we’re all capable of doing dark or bad things. Most people are not good or bad; they fall in the gray and do bad things. And showing women [on screen] who are always nurturing, good, or likable is not being honest.
“I used to believe that people determined their own lives. We were in control, commanding our futures,
choosing our spouses, picking professions,responsible for the decisions that shape the course of our lives.
And yet, there is one force more powerful than free will. Our unconscious. Underneath the suits, behind closed doors, we’re all ruled by the same desires. And those desires can be raw and dark and deeply shameful.
The more you watch someone, the more you realize, we are never really who we say we are.
In fact, hidden underneath, there’s always a secret. We might actually be someone else.”
The great Naomi Watts is Jean Holloway, a therapist, mother, and loving wife to her husband, Michael (Billy Crudup) in Gypsy, the series follows as Jean creates the character of Diane, a single journalist whom she inhabits to unethically involve herself in the lives of her patients. Her transformation, the impetus of this unhinged act is a host of repressed sexual and professional yearnings that she indulges (along with much bourbon) as a distinctly troubling type of escapism creates an amazing piece of a character.
At first, her actions are explicitly tied to one patient: Sam (Karl Glusman), who is obsessed with Sidney (Sophie Cookson), his ex-girlfriend and a local bartender. In an early scene in one of their sessions, he describes being consumed by his desires for Sidney, being unable to think of anything but her and what she makes and made him feel. And what Jean seems to want in creating Diane is to feel that kind of passion for herself, as the day-to-day nuisances of play dates, other school mothers, her oft-rigid colleagues, and domestic duties have become the center of her existence. Her increasing dependence on alcohol is at once an enabling force and a reflection of what she seeks to feel when she begins to follow and flirt with Sidney.
Jean is working to solve the problems of her patients via extreme breaches in trust in an attempt to avoid confronting her own disquiet with the peaceful existence she’s built for herself. Watts, moving and nuanced as much in her silences as her speeches, is careful to not show Jean as completely indifferent to her marital life. She clearly cares about being a mother and a wife but she’s been feeling an impersonality toward her family, as well as her career, that has driven her toward more radical means of feeling noticed and desired. Watts makes the character a study in the neglected id returning to overtake the unending routines of professional and family life — the intimate impulse of wanting to destroy any semblance of personal stability. As such, one could even argue that Gypsy is a kind of horror series without the copious blood and outlandish violence.
The increasing lack of control that Jean feels and her impulsive seeking of satisfaction of any kind never comes through in Taylor-Johnson’s compositions or in Rubin’s dialogue. As such, we never quite get a handle on the pleasure, rush, and instability of what she’s doing, nor do we fully understand how that affects Michael or their daughter.
The danger in remaining professional is that one can also feel at a distance from the work and render one unable to find useful solutions to personal problems. For Jean, this leads to crippling frustration and an overwhelming feeling of uselessness, which pushes her toward the creation of Diane and the relationship she begins to build with Sidney. And by becoming personally involved in her patients’ lives, she denies them a crucial sense of control and freedom to speak without fear of being exploited, a situation that is primed for chaos that never quite came in the first four episodes but looks to be inevitably in the cards.
In essence, the series allows Rubin, Watts, and Taylor-Johnson to consider and criticize their own personal connections to their own work, employment that often requires them to be at a distance from their material to allow for producers and other interests to have their (mostly) appropriate say. And as all three chief creative forces behind Gypsy are women, there is an essential focus on how the simple fact of being a woman can drastically affect how you are criticized and managed by men. It’s an element that should have been pushed further throughout the run of Gypsy, which might have made for a great movie but settles as an engaging, wise series. Nevertheless, in a marketplace short on ambitious shows made by and for women, Gypsy finds fertile ground for an exploration of the chaotic impasse between roiling inner desires and the false yet requisite veneer of stability that society often calls for without knowing the real cost.
A must see Psychothriller with a glimpse of softness :