Ever since I’ve binge-watched Gypsy on Netflix, I’ve been thinking about the show and especially the characters’ identity crisis.
For those who don’t know the pitch, Gypsy is a “psychological-drama” created by Lisa Rubin, that tells the story of a psychiatrist, Jean (amazing Naomi Watts), who decides to treat her patients in a very unprofessional way since she’s approaching their relatives with a fake identity. The main topic of the TV series is the exploration of one’s identity. While there are so many interesting and powerful female characters, here we’ll mostly talk about Sidney who is portrayed by the brilliant Sophie Cookson.
Sidney Pierce is sold as a mysterious girl, but she ended up being profoundly transparent to me by the end of the season. By that, I mean she’s pretty honest with who she is and easier than Jean/Diane (Naomi) to figure out. Sidney lies mostly to protect herself and because she doesn’t feel the need to open herself up to every person she meets. Yet who does? She does not care about what people think, unless she likes them, then it’s an entire new deal for her. Deep down she’s struggling to find her place in a world she doesn’t fully understand. To me, she is a very human representation of questioning Millenials.
“We’re all searching for a larger meaning” – Sam
That being said, I admit I easily relate to Sidney, her interrogations and this unsettling impression of feeling stuck in your own life while everything around you is moving. She mentions twice that: everyone else seems to move on with their life, to have purpose and therefore, they are all following a driven path. The fact she doesn’t makes her doubt herself and what she does with her life. The thing is, she’s feeling lost and it’s starting to make her ask herself questions that she never had to ask before.
Why does she feel like this? It’s due to the combination of two things. First, her vision of life: living in the moment because nothing is certain and you cannot plan the future. Just with that, it forbids her to propel herself in something else than the present situation she is not feeling comfortable about. Secondly, on the same idea, it’s hard to get out of a situation in which you feel trapped, if you don’t live expecting that the future holds better things than the present. A big concern Sidney (and our generation) may have is that we are afraid of losing our individuality by fitting the mould dressed by society. In a way, it makes sense because we spend most of our time building a representation of who we are and showing it to the world via social media. It accentuates the need to live the life we want as we want it, whether than living the way we should.
In episode 6, Jean/Diane and Sidney visit a museum. During this scene, there’s an interesting confrontation of two visions of life from two very different generations. The notion of “should” is not as strong in Millennials as it is for the previous generations. Since Sidney does not act as she should but as she feels, then sometimes she is confronted with a lack of perspective. When in doubt, acting like you should give you a guideline and might allow you to keep afloat, but if don’t work like this then every challenging moment can be the Titanic of your life. It is so overwhelming you don’t know what to do about it…
How to deal with change when everything is moving
The Millennials, still represented by Sidney, have this constant impression of change. Since the beginning of the 2000’s everything has been changing so fast. Technologies accentuate that perception, because we have no clue what will happen in three to six months from now. Meanwhile, mentalities don’t really evolve which make the living world a paradox! So how can you possibly find your place in a moving world? Especially when you don’t have job stability either.
Every day feels like you are in a roofless speeding train without any seat belt. Hence, why should I plan anything, since there are lots of chances that it might not be possible when the time will come? Living on a daily vision seems like the best way to deal with it. But at some point, people settle down. However, the time at which this step of life happens is clearly uncertain. Some people start a family at 20 while others have kids at 35…
This typically forces you to juggle with different life rhythm. Whether you want it or not, every step someone does before you makes you wonder what your priorities are and why you are not on the same level of life expectancies. For instance, Sidney’s ex Sam is getting married, clearly the character is conflicted about this news. Not because she still loves him, but because of the way it makes her feel about herself.
The power of social media
Like I said, we spend a lot of time comparing to others because we live in a world in which everyone exposes who he/she wants you to see. Thanks social media! How can you not be formatted to this kind of definition of yourself, when you keep receiving notifications of this person who went there and did that. At some point of your day, you’ll be lurking on social media to take a look at other people lives. Right from the safety of the distance brought by your computer, into other people fake representation of themselves. Knowing how it works is not helping because we still compare like it’s a normal thing to do. Hence a profound bias between the impressions you have on other people’s lives and what they really are living.
In Gypsy, Sidney prays the digital. She’s at least on Instagram and Facebook, both social platforms from which she’s getting updates on her ex situation. That’s how she know he is getting married. Also she believes he lost touch with her after noticing on Instagram she was “dating” Diane/Jean. This is not true, because Sam does not mention this to Jean in therapy. Social media put everything out of context, firstly because you choose what to share on them, and second because as a passive observer you only see a tiny piece of the reality. This develops fantasy and imagination. It’s like reading a text without the vocal intonation. It leaves you alone with your own interpretation of words that are not yours and you translate them regarding your mood and how you would personally use those emojis or signs, etc. This leads us once again to the fact that Sidney might think that everyone is moving on, but are actually struggling with their lives without her knowing it. She knows how it works since she posted the picture of her and Jean/Diane and awaits on the impressions and comments.
The character of Sidney in its whole might be a little cliché regarding who Millenials are. Her style and how she insists on being free is a little exaggerated but the interpretation of Sophie Cookson brings measurement to a tormented young woman. Obviously, I might be over thinking this! That might not be the Millenials’ way, but just mine! Deep down I’ve always cogitated on what’s what and why, probably hoping that in the absence of stability, I could find a purpose in explaining the society I keep forging myself in, and the representation that are conveyed by fictions like Gypsy.