I am so confused by Naomi Watts right now, I’m not sure I can properly express it. Since the moment she blew away my brain with her incredible performance in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (Mulholland Dr.), I’ve been a fan, and was especially thrilled to see her show up in another favorite David’s (Cronenberg) film (Eastern Promises), and to return to Lynch-land in what is arguably one of 2017’s best series’ the Twin Peaks revival.
Watts has been uniquely delightful as Janey-E Jones, showing off her range, and providing moments of pure comedic relief during scenes when her pitch perfect delivery has shocked criminals and cops alike into quiet submission. With only a few onscreen moments sprinkled through the mesmerizing madness — and alongside one of (beloved) Kyle MacLachlan’s best alter egos, Dougie — Watts simply shines. So, it pains me to even contemplate that as good as she is in Peaks and movies like The Impossible and The Painted Veil, how can she be so bad in Netflix’s Gypsy, which is quite possibly one of the worst series I’ve ever seen.
Yes, it is that bad. Gypsy is so awful that a few minutes in, you’re wondering why you haven’t shut it off yet, but want to give it a chance because you know Naomi Watts is a good actress and maybe it’s just this first episode …
… It’s not. It’s not just the first episode, and it’s not only the tentative, plodding storyline that revolves around Watts’ Jean Holloway, a therapist who inappropriately involves herself in several of her patients’ lives. In the dreary, almost retro soft-pornish imaginings of first time screenwriter and executive producer, Lisa Rubin, and as directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), Gypsy plays like a leftover Lifetime movie, and that’s saying something. Whether it’s simply a case of the material bringing down its star(s) — Billy Crudup is equally lifeless — or a combination of terrible writing and dialogue, juvenile fantasy sequences, predictability, miscasting and a strangely unfitting score (every episode is backed by continuous moody, though not the right mood, music, the sort you’d expect for a supernatural or mystery series), who can say, but despite Watts apparent effort to sell her role, it doesn’t work in any shape or form. As Jean, she has little chemistry in any of her relationships, and her actions are nonsensical for any person, never mind a professional providing advice to others (and don’t even get me started on the way the character deals with her identity-questioning child). Watts’ performance feels so flat, I can hardly believe she’s the same actress in the two series, and I’m left wondering what in the world could have drawn her past the initial description.
Do yourself a favor and stick to Twin Peaks, because Gypsy is a real nightmare.
We still love you, Naomi!