The disturbing, tragic story of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard is headed to Hulu starting on March 20th, when the first season of the new anthology series, The Act, debuts. On Thursday, February 14th, Hulu released the first trailer for the true crime dramatization, revealing actress Joey King’s incredible transformation. The real Gypsy Rose Blanchard is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second degree murder; Gypsy Rose admitted that she arranged for her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, whom she met online, to kill DeeDee at their Missouri home in 2015.
The Act is based on a 2016 Buzzfeed article by journalist Michelle Dean, who also serves as a writer and executive producer. Dean’s article was the first to fully explore the bizarre circumstances leading up to the murder, including the years of emotional, psychological and physical abuse that DeeDee inflicted upon Gypsy Rose. Numerous experts who have studied the case believe Dee Dee Blanchard — who is played by Patricia Arquette in The Act — had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a parent or other caretaker exaggerates, fabricates or induces illness in another person for attention and sympathy.
From the time she was small, Blanchard raised Gypsy to believe she was severely disabled and chronically ill, subjecting her to unnecessary surgeries and medications. Blanchard claimed Gypsy had leukemia, muscular dystrophy, asthma and brain damage that limited her mental capacity to that of a seven-year-old. She was confined to a wheelchair from the age of eight (despite having full use of her legs), fed through a feeding tube, and made to shave her head, somehow fooling doctor after doctor with claims about Gypsy’s various symptoms.
“With a role like Gypsy, no matter how much prep you do, no matter how much research you do, no matter how much script work you do, nothing will prepare you,” King said at a TV Critics Association panel earlier this week.
When Gypsy was old enough to figure out the ruse, she later said in interviews, Blanchard forced her to keep up the charade, including lying about her age to appear younger, at times using physical and psychological abuse. Dee Dee had a lot to lose – for years, she’d been using Gypsy’s “condition” to collect donations from charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“[Dee Dee] was pretty f**king crazy,” Bobby Pitre, Gypsy Rose’s cousin, told Radar Online. “She deserved to die. She’d be controlling Gypsy for sure. She had Gypsy right where she wanted her.”
Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee’s story has been on the small screen before, first in Erin Lee Carr’s HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, which aired in 2017. More recently, in January, Lifetime aired their own dramatization, Love You to Death, which was “based on true events,” but with fictional characters.
Not everyone is excited for The Act, however. Pitre told Radar Online that Dee Dee family’s doesn’t want to see their family’s trauma turned into another TV drama.
“Dee Dee’s sisters think it’s pretty fucked up,” Pitre said. “They hate all of it. They don’t know why people keep making stories about it. … [It’s] time to leave it alone.”