I have an interest in psychology, and as such, I've always enjoyed watching therapist characters on television. I've always been adamant the best part of The Sopranos was Tony's therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi, and more recently several characters on Hannibal proved just how entertaining these characters can be to watch. It's surprising, then, that something like Gypsy hasn't come along earlier. While it's being dubbed a 'psychosexual drama/ thriller' I propose that it's something far simpler - a character drama, and not in the This Is Us sense.
Series with therapists often risk becoming boring because a fundamental part of their job - therapy sessions - involve a lot dialogue being spilled out like exposition. The audience aren't being shown anything, there is no action occurring, and so it a lot more difficult to keep people entertained when two characters are just sitting in a room. What allows fictional psychologists to become so interesting is that they don't do much talking in their sessions - they listen - so while whatever character spills out their lives problems to them the therapist can remain relatively enigmatic.
Enter Jean Holloway, a New York psychotherapist played by Noami Watts. She initially seems competent at her job, telling her elderly patient Claire Rogers that she needs to respect her daughter Rebecca's boundaries. Jean receives several calls from her own mother throughout the episode which she promptly ignores and one can't help but think that Claire might become a stand-in for Jeans own parental problems. Later at a staff meeting a colleague is telling her and some others about his patient who is planning to propose to his girlfriend, but he's anxious because he is still cheating with his co-worker. Jean is quick to say that he should't marry her when another co-worker tells her, 'that's not for us to decide, we're here to address his issues, not make his decisions.'
And so Jean is revealed to be more than an average therapist. It becomes increasingly evident that she wants to get involved in her patients lives, and that she has done so before, her husband Michael (Billy Crudup) asking, 'you're not getting emotionally involved again, are you?'. Whether it is to help them, or for own personal interests (professional or otherwise) remains to be seen, but I can already she Gypsy being one of those enthralling series in which we continuously watch its lead in Jean, make increasingly bad decisions, but yet we can't look away, and sort of hope she makes the wrong choices for our entertainment.
Jean literally goes down 'The Rabbit Hole' in this episode, stalking (it may seem a harsh word, but it's clearly what she's doing, and assumedly her behaviour is only going to get more questionable as the series progresses) her client Sam's ex-girlfriend Sidney while she works at the coffeeshop. We know from Sam's therapy session that he's still taking the break-up hard 8 months on, and so the questions is, why does Jean assume the alias of 'Diane' the writer and befriend Sidney? Is it to get Sidney's side of the story, a more balanced opinion? Sam certainly loses a lot of audience sympathy when Sidney reveals his clinginess. Or is Jean intrigued by the way Sam is obsessed with Sidney? Did she go to 'The Rabbit Hole' to find out who this amazing woman was for her herself? Did she go because she herself has never loved someone that much (she seems restless with her husband Michael), or being loved that much? It's Jean's enigmatic motivations that will continue to make Gypsy an intriguing series to watch, so when instances like Sidney brushing her hand over hers evokes a question in both the character and the audience, 'why is she here?'.
Despite Jean's elusiveness there is still a lot of talking throughout the aforementioned therapy sessions. Sam tells her he went to return some of Sidney's things under her guidance, which she knew having almost been spotted by Sam at the coffeeshop. But Sam goes on to tell her about Sidney's dead father leading him to think she has trust issues, and ironically, Jean is shocked. Sam's revelation contradicts a story Sidney told 'Diane' about her father being in prison - and suddenly Gypsy has highlighted something very important. Just because there's a lot of talking, it doesn't mean anything is actually being said. Sidney has lied to either Sam or Jean, or even both, and just when both Jean and the audience thought they were starting to grasp her character, we are now uncertain of everything. Gypsy's tagline is 'Who are you when no one is watching?' and it highlights what most already know. We are us, yes, but we are also different versions of oursleves depending on who we are with, for better or worse. Jean is obviously a character still changing, as we all do throughout our lives, and it'll be interesting to see where Sidney's arrival takes her.