Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
Early on into Gypsy it’s clear that the main character, Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts/ The Impossible, Twin Peaks, I Heart Huckabees) isn’t exactly happy with her life. She’s a therapist, friend, wife, and mother, but she longs to be something else. Throughout the first episode, Jean tries to delve deeper into what that something else might be.
Work: Jean meets with three clients, each of whom talks about a loved one that is impacting their lives. During a work meeting, Jean seems to be the only one in her practice who wants to provide straight up advice instead of leading clients along the long winding path of figuring out answers for themselves. She rightfully says that a serial cheating patient probably isn’t the best candidate for marriage. This is obvious, but not in keeping with the job of a therapist.
Domestic Matters: This is where hints of intrigue start to appear. Jean begins to visit a hipster café and order coffees under the name of ‘Diane’. Jean and Diane are both fairly easy names, so it’s not like Jean is using this pseudonym to make it easier on the baristas. Diane/Jean focuses her attention on a particular barista, Sidney (Sophie Cookson/Kinsgman: The Secret Service; The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and the two flirt after Diane/Jean initiates a conversation.
Jean’s other interest include her child Dolly (Maren Heary/Glued) and husband Michael (Billy Crudup/Almost Famous; Stage Beauty). Dolly’s elementary school principal meets with Jean to discuss Dolly’s recent behavior which includes kissing a girl and saying that she doesn’t identify as a girl. We never see Jean or Michael discuss the situation with Dolly, but they discuss it amongst themselves on the way to a suburban dinner party.
Jean’s friends are typical, stuck up suburban women who focus on baking and homemade food. They gossip about women who don’t bake and are single; as if these are the worst misfortunes to befall a woman. Jean plainly either doesn’t fit in or is completely over these people. On her way out of the door Jean steals a blank prescription script. Post dinner party, despite her husband’s concern that she’s drunk, Jean says that she wants to go to her colleague/friend Larin’s (Poorna Jagannathan/The Night Of; Royal Pains) party. Jean takes the train into the city and switches into her Diane persona, complete with new perfume and a cool necklace. Diane/Jean heads to a bar where she’s slightly out of place, but Sidney’s singing and Mick Jagger-like moves draws Diane/Jean in.
After Hour Shenanigans: After Sidney’s performance, she fills Diane/Jean in on her ex-boyfriend and his intense neediness. At this point it should be more than obvious that Sidney is the ex-girlfriend of Jean’s patient, Sam (Karl Glusman/Stonewall; Nocturnal Animals). Jean is also completely single white female-ing it up with her approach to Sidney down to her choice in perfume. Jean bought the perfume after learning about it from Sam during a session. Sidney remarks that Diane/Jean smells exactly like her.
At the end of the episode Jean is getting her hair blown out at the same salon as her patient’s daughter Rebecca. Again, Jean has used information she learned about during a therapy session to interact with her patient’s loved one.
The multiple strands in Jean’s life are bound to intersect and things will spiral out of control. A dramatic collision done well is always intriguing. Also, the storyline of Dolly, who might identify as a trans boy, could be great if handled well.
Much of the show feels bland and recycled. Jean’s desire for her early “rollercoaster” days seems like someone seeking drama for the sake of drama. So far none of the characters apart from Dolly seem that interesting. Unless there’s more depth, Gypsy will feel like a chore to watch instead of a tense and intriguing character(s) study.
Watch This if You Like: In Treatment; Big Little Lies, Doctor Foster
Gypsy S1E1 – Starring: Naomi Watts, Billy Cudrup, Sophie Cookson, Kalr Glusma, Brenda Vaccaro, Melanie Liburd, Maren Heary