By Lucy Buglass
Hulu’s new crime series The Act has taken America by storm, and it’s now available in the UK on Amazon Prime.
The harrowing series starring Patricia Arquette and Joey King follows the lives of DeeDee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and the events leading up to DeeDee’s eventual murder at the hands of Gypsy.
The Act is based on a horrifying true story of neglect, manipulation and torture. We explore the relationship between Gypsy and her mother, and what led to her death.
Who are DeeDee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose Blanchard?
Otherwise known as Clauddine Blanchard, DeeDee was a woman from Missouri who suffered from a condition known as ‘Munchausen by proxy’. As a result of this, she pretended that her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard had a whole host of medical issues, and that she had to be in a wheelchair.
Because of Gypsy’s supposed conditions, DeeDee was incredibly overprotective of her and treated her like a child, dressing her up in fairy tale costumes and buying her stuffed animals.
DeeDee spent every waking moment caring for Gypsy, and relied on donations from various charities and communities. Most disturbingly, she fed her daughter medication she didn’t actually need and convinced her she had cancer, shaving her head to keep up the act.
What is Munchausen by proxy?
It’s a mental health condition where a caregiver deliberately causes sickness to an individual, in order to satisfy their desire for attention. Experts believe this could be caused by poor self-esteem, or even that they have a ‘hero complex’.
Someone with a complex of this kind seeks praise from a community, wanting to be seen as someone who’s virtuous and caring. It’s also a way of gaining sympathy from those around you.
The condition has been explored in other TV dramas, such as Dark Objects, starring Amy Adams and classic thriller The Sixth Sense.
How and why was DeeDee murdered?
Gypsy Rose Blanchard didn’t kill her mother herself, instead she conspired with then-boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn, after meeting him online. She didn’t have access to a phone or the Internet so spoke to him in secret, eventually desiring more freedom from her own mother.
Because of the constant physical and mental abuse at the hands of her mother, her death seemed to be a last resort for Gypsy. She couldn’t go anywhere without her mother tracking her down, and had an intense want to be with Nick and have independence. Gypsy and Nick had a secret relationship for around two years.
Gypsy eventually invited Nick over, who then stabbed DeeDee to death whilst she was sleeping. The two fled to his hometown of Big Bend, Wisconsin, but were later caught by the authorities.
Where is Gypsy Rose Blanchard now?
Gypsy is now 27 years old and is serving a ten-year sentence in prison. She’ll be eligible for parole when she’s 33.
She has since been interviewed about her mother’s death, and has complicated feelings about what happened.
“I said I wanted it to be painless. I didn’t want her to suffer, because she was still my mother.” She admitted, speaking about her role in the murder.
“We thought that we would never get caught. I felt like this was a fairytale and I was going to be the princess that gets rescued, and then I’d be happy in Wisconsin where I’d be loved, and I’d have my freedom, and have this wonderful new life.
“What started as a fairy tale ended as a horror movie,” She concluded.
How many episodes is The Act?
It’s an eight-part series that follows DeeDee (Patricia Arquette) and Gypsy Rose (Joey King). It documents their move to Missouri, where we see Gypsy slowly start to desire independence and question what her mother’s doing to her.
The series has some intense moments, showing the reality of DeeDee’s behaviour and how Gypsy was abused when she didn’t comply with her mother.
All eight episodes are available on Amazon Prime and STARZPLAY now.
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