THE SHOW “Gypsy”
WHEN | WHERE Begins streaming Friday on Netflix.
THE GRADE C-
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Jeanne Holloway (Naomi Watts) is a New York therapist with a superficially happy home life — married to big-shot lawyer Michael (Billy Crudup) and mother to cute towheaded daughter Dolly (Maren Heary). Then one day, her patient Sam (Karl Glusman) tells her about Sidney (Sophie Cookson), a sultry English beauty who works days as a barista and nights at a club, where she sings smoky, sexy covers like Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy” (hence the title). Even though Sam is desperately in love with Sidney, Jeanne counsels him to leave her. Why? She’s in love with Sidney, too.
MY SAY Boring. In a word, that’s Jeanne’s life, also her predicament, presumably her fate. Boring, boring, boring. Her husband’s an empty suit. Her patients are wallpaper. Her friends are Stepfords. The city that never sleeps actually manages to doze off in the middle of the never-ending torpor that has become her life. City noises aren’t just muffled, but absent. You can almost hear the crickets. In fact, you can.
That’s the setup to “Gypsy,” and also its predicament, pointedly its fate. Even actors with the amplitude of Watts and Crudup can’t pull “Gypsy” out of this induced coma. One reason is a hook — a genuinely interesting one — that refuses to come to life.
As a cognitive behavioral therapist, Jeanne’s all about the goal — or solving the patient’s problem quickly — until she realizes that she can solve her own life problem through one of them. She has repressed her bisexuality so deeply and for so long that it takes one of those patients — or ultimately his ex-lover — to begin the laborious process of uncovering it. The doctor becomes the patient, except the patient doesn’t know the role has been reversed or that he or she should probably be the one getting paid instead of the doctor. An ethical disaster in the making, Jeanne constructs a series of elaborate lies to protect her identity, job and marriage, while building her new passionate relationship with Sidney. As she tries to dig herself out of one hole, she digs another. Catch-22 or checkmate, your choice. Either way, she’s still an Emma Bovary: repressed and potentially doomed.
An interesting setup, so why is “Gypsy” an exercise in watching paint dry? It’s always easiest to blame director Sam Taylor-Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey,” except she only directed the first two episodes.) First-time TV writer and show creator Lisa Rubin could have probably benefited from the input of a more seasoned producer. But Rubin did come up with the good idea, so she gets a pass.
Reluctantly, then, we must come to Watts. A fine actress, great screen presence and highly intelligent interpreter of just about any role she’s ever undertaken, but the lassitude of Jeanne Holloway ultimately overwhelms her. Those crickets have the final word. She’s boring, too.
BOTTOM LINE Who doesn’t love Naomi Watts? Unfortunately, she’s stuck in a glue pot of a series.