This Is The Hidden Lesson In Netflix's New Series Gypsy

Photo: Alison Cohen Rosa/Netflix.
Netflix may have only premiered GLOW last week, but the streaming service has already debuted yet another addictive, woman-led series. This time it’s psychosexual thriller Gypsy, starring Naomi Watts. Right off the bat, the newbie drama teaches viewers a lot of lessons. Therapy can be really tedious. There are always at least two sides to any story. Using a fake name when leading a double life is probably for the best. All of these warnings are pretty obvious. But, there’s a far more under-the-radar one hiding in premiere episode "The Rabbit Hole."
When we first meet lead character and therapist Jean Holloway (Watts), it’s obvious something strange is going on with her. Her introductory voiceover monologue explains how she’s realised her "unconscious" is more powerful than her actual conscious will. Viewers see how true that is for Jean as she lies about her name, pursues the woman her client is fixated on, and lies to her husband. Obviously she is starting to get "emotionally involved again," as her husband Michael (Billy Crudup) puts it. Yet, when Michael asks if his wife is committing that therapy faux pas, Jean says, "No, of course not," with an unsettling level of breeziness.
Advertisement
This is where the most interesting lesson comes into play. "It’s just crazy to think someone can hold that kind of power over your life," she tells Michael, referencing her client Sam (Karl Glusman), who’s addicted to his ex-girlfriend Sidney (Sophie Cookson). Jean continues, "[It] just reminds me of that time before Dolly, when I was losing my mind, breaking up with you every other day." Dolly (Maren Heary) is Jean and Michael’s 8-year-old daughter. Jean makes it sound as though simply having a child with Michael is what saved her when she was "losing her mind." If you think about it, the therapist doesn’t say that time "before I went to therapy" or "before I got on the necessary medication" — nope, she says before Dolly.
That kind of honest admission is even more concerning when you remember Jean is actually on medication, an anti-anxiety sedative (which she's seemingly prescribing to herself, illegally). A wellness specialist like Jean should be crediting something like proper medication or therapy for her improvements, not giving birth. Especially since having Dolly clearly hasn’t actually changed any of the therapist’s more self-destructive tendencies. If anything, motherhood has only given her a small diversion from getting dangerously involved with her patient’s real lives. After musing about the period before her daughter, Jean adds, “[I] just miss that feeling sometimes.” See, becoming a mom hasn’t made any huge changes in Jean’s seemingly damaged interior wold.
If fact, the therapist now has even more to worry about. As Jean begins living a double life, pretending to be a freelance journalist named "Diane Hart" in order to chase the aforementioned Sidney, her very real commitments in her actual life start to get more serious. At the beginning of Gypsy, Dolly says she’s not "really" a girl during class and attempts to kiss another female classmate. Soon enough, Jean is getting dragged out of her "Diane" preparations to go deal with her daughter’s principal, who hints the child may be transgender or a lesbian. While Jean is supportive of her young daughter’s possible identity, nothing here is pointing towards Dolly acting as some sort of cure-all for Jean’s perfectly rehabilitated mental state, and it’s not fair to give a child that kind of emotional responsibility.
Unfortunately for the Holloway family, Jean's Gypsy thinking is going to get a lot worse before it can get better.
Advertisement