els bastards

A prying and deceptive Naomi Watts

Gypsy tells the story of a psychologist whose personal demons lead her to overstep the boundaries of her profession and involve herself in the private lives of her patients

The Woody Allen story I like the most is in the film, Everyone Says I Love You (1996). Allen plays a 50-year old separated man who has a good relationship with his daughter, and who is obsessed with Julia Roberts. Yet, she is 20 years his junior and only interested in finding the man of her dreams. She talks about this ideal man to her therapist, who is Allen’s ex-wife, and who conspires to pass on to Allen all the information Roberts gives her about her perfect man so that he can seduce her. And he manages to pull it off! I won’t tell you how things turn out, because it would spoil the ending. I only mention it because the series Gypsy, starring Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup, also deals with using private information given in confidence for one’s personal benefit.

Watts plays Jean Holloway a psychologist who gets too involved in the lives of her patients, to the point it becomes unprofessional. Jean does not use what her patients tell her to help them reflect, to think, to make decisions. As one of her colleagues points out, the role of the psychotherapist is not to tell others how to live their lives, but to help them find their own way. Yet, Holloway begins prying into the personal relationships of others, contacts their relatives pretending to be someone else, and tries to manipulate the situations others find themselves in according to her own criteria.

Confusing problems

It is almost inevitable that as a therapist, at some point the person who is in therapy in front of you might remind you of something from your past or of your own fears and emotions. Some people might even mistakenly believe that in fixing the problems of that other person, they are also fixing their own problems. This is the mistake that Holloway makes. In short, the Netflix series show us everything that a psychotherapist should never do. It is nothing like In Treatment (2008), which starred Gabriel Byrne, and was a much more realistic portrayal of therapy. The psychotherapist professional college would no doubt find plenty in this series to criticise.

Meanwhile, the trailer for the series suggests a series full of sex, eroticism and cheating, and goes out of its way to point out that the director also made Fifty Shades of Grey (2015). At times it looks as if it might even go the way of Basic Instinct (1992). Yet, it’s not like that at all. And, even though I am already on episode five, I still have no idea what the title of the series refers to: I have yet to see a single gypsy.

What’s more, the series ends up as a vehicle for Watts, although it has to be said that the show’s successes are down to her, and whether you like her or not. Watts eclipses and overshadows the secondary characters and is the only character that really matters in Gypsy.

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