BINGE-R #57: Gypsy + June's Best Shows
Streaming Service: Netflix
Availability: All 10 episodes now streaming
Naomi Watts is having an impressive return to television. The Australian actress is one of the crucial elements in David Lynch’s renewed Twin Peaks, where her suburban wife Janey-E Jones (sing it, Clash fans) keeps suggesting unforeseen strands, and now she supplies nearly all of the nuance and attraction to Gypsy, a faltering Netflix series about a female psychiatrist’s mid-life crisis. It’s Watts’ Jean Holloway who powers the simmering plot, knitting together ideas that otherwise wouldn’t make sense in creator Lisa Rubin’s 10-part New York state of mind drama.
The signposting starts early on, with Jean listening to a patient and carefully writing “BOUNDARIES” in her notebook – it soon turns out she lacks a few herself. Whether because of compassion or control, Jean delves into the lives she hears about, most notably meeting the barista, Sidney (Sophie Cookson), that her despairing patient Sam (Karl Glusman) can’t get over. Soon she’s making excuses to her lawyer husband, Michael (Billy Crudup), and slipping out of their suburban home to visit the city at night, using her knowledge of Sidney to draw her closer only to suddenly push the willing accomplice away.
The early episodes have a back and forth that speaks more to the plot not wanting to commit itself than Jean’s uneasy indecision. Sometimes the elements are just too predictable, akin to a glossy 1990s Hollywood thriller, as the wife becomes alarmed about her husband’s young assistant, Alexis (Melanie Liburd), and starts borrowing blank prescriptions and pocketing jagged little pills. It’s not enough to put a female spin on the well-worn concept of the privileged 40something screwing up their happy life – Gypsy needs more risk to her swapping of identities, and a deeper sense of desire.
Jean and Michael’s eight-year-old daughter, Dolly (Maren Heary), is beginning to reveal gender dysphoria, and her example is just one of several suggestions of transformation that percolate through the narrative. However, Jean’s experiences with the stay at home mothers of Dolly’s school friends feels almost perfunctory after a show such as Big Little Lies, which captured the experiences of similar women with painful frankness. Other setbacks, such as the uninspiring direction of the first two episodes by Sam Taylor-Johnson (50 Shades of Grey), are simply failings that can’t be rectified. Ultimately, Gypsy just wanders too much.
>> Bonus Binge: A far better recent show about a woman coming to terms with her life, one that feels organically connected to her struggle, is Amazon’s I Love Dick. Kathryn Hahn is immense as the filmmaker who uses her obsession with a famous artist to recast her bearings. [full review here]
JUNE’S BEST SHOWS
It looks like I watched a great deal of Netflix this month, which is nearly always the case because the streaming behemoth is adding new content at a serious rate. But you could also describe June as a quiet month for Stan, SBS on Demand and Amazon Prime Video. That mostly changes in July, but for now the shows below should keep you clicking on the next episode.
1 – Glow S1 (Netflix): Set in 1980s Los Angeles and concerned with budding female wrestlers, it’s “a busy, sometimes offbeat, comic-drama with a clandestine agenda and faith in its characters; it’s not always consistent, but when it works it’s sharply funny and genuine in its intent”. [review here]
2 – The Keepers S1 (Netflix): Beginning with an unsolved murder from almost 50 years ago and descending into institutional corruption, in this true crime series, “the threads of the mystery and the bravery of those who survived its destructive realm makes for gripping viewing”. [review here]
3 – Peaky Blinders S1 (Netflix): Now that all three seasons of this British period crime drama starring Cillian Murphy are available, you can appreciate how it’s distinct from, “the numerous other series about criminal clans and their taciturn anti-heroes”. [review here]
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