Leukemia. Fibromyalgia. Muscular dystrophy. Chromosomal defects. Sleep apnea. An allergy to sugar. Those are just a few of the illnesses Dee Dee Blancharde believed her daughter Gypsy Rose to have had in her young life. Surgery after surgery was performed, another drug prescribed, but eventually another issue would arise. There’s only one problem: Gypsy was never sick at all.
The pair are at the center of the first season of Hulu’s seasonal true crime anthology series “The Act” (the first two episodes premiered on March 20). The five-part series traces their history from when they moved into a Habitat for Humanity home in Missouri to Dee Dee’s murder in 2016, a plot that freed her from her overprotective mother but placed her behind bars. The show goes back and forth from the murder scene in 2016 to ten years earlier, slowly chronicling Dee Dee’s psychotic fall as Gypsy Rose becomes more aware of the lies her mother had fed her about her medical history.
“She would have been the perfect mom for someone that was actually sick,” Gypsy Rose said to Buzzfeed News contributor Michelle Dean (who also co-created the Hulu series) in an interview for the article that inspired the series.
But to Gypsy Rose, Dee Dee was the monster that lied to her about her age and mental capacity, kept her on a feeding tube and stopped her from being able to make friends. Dean teamed up with co-creator Nick Antosca for the series. Antosca, a major horror buff, is no stranger to monsters, creating Syfy’s “Channel Zero” and constantly working with teams of choreographers and artists to craft original monsters.
While Dee Dee may never be able to explain her side of the story, Antosca and actress Patricia Arquette (playing Dee Dee) brought a woman to life that was as much light as she was dark, who loved her daughter as much as she loved the attention and sympathy that came with her existence.