'The Act': Hulu show unravels the story behind the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy
Hulu's upcoming show 'The Act' is based on the horrifying true story of an abusive and manipulative mother and her troubled daughter trying to escape the toxic relationship. Dee Dee Blanchard, the mother, suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) and had her daughter Gypsy wrongly convinced that she was sick and suffered a range of medical conditions from when she was a child.
Dee Dee convinced Gypsy that she was paralysed waist down and had her chained to the wheelchair for most of her life. Gypsy discovered the truth when she was almost 23 years old. She then plotted her mother's murder and escaped from her clutches with the help of her boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn who she had met online in the year 2015.
Dee Dee's body was found on June 14, 2015 and, days later, Gypsy was found by the police with the help of her friend Aleah Woodmansee who told police about Gypsy's boyfriend.
'The Act' stars Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee and Joey King as Gypsy. Buzzfeed contributor Michelle Dean, who wrote an in-depth story about the incident in 2016, a year after it occurred, is one of the writers and executive producers of the show. In the story, Dean outlined Dee Dee and Gypsy's relationship before the murder took place with testimonies from friends, neighbours and other people she spoke to.
The series also takes inspiration from the HBO documentary 'Mommy Dead and Dearest' which released in 2017 and covered the incidents following Gypsy's arrest and incorporated her statements to the police. The documentary also features an interview with Gypsy after she was jailed in which she gave her account of the events and the life that she led.
In the documentary, Nick (Nicholas Godejohn), Gypsy's boyfriend who committed the crime, revealed, "Honestly, she was the one who told me to." He was referring to stabbing Gypsy's mother. He stressed that he wouldn't have done if not for Gypsy. The Facebook post which read, "The B**** is Dead" followed by “I fucken SLASHED THAT FAT PIG AND RAPED HER SWEET INNOCENT DAUGHTER… HER SCREAM WAS SOOOO FUCKEN LOUD LOL,” was also revealed to have been authored by Gypsy herself.
After Gypsy's arrest and subsequent interrogation, the county sheriff organised a press conference where he started saying, "Not all is as it appears". The same words are used at the start of the Hulu show and serve as a primer.
Gypsy was arraigned on June 16, 2015 on charges of conspiracy to murder her mother and colluding with Nick. It was also the arraignment where friends and neighbours of Gypsy and Dee Dee realised that the girl they all knew as a 'sick child' was not sick at all. The officials also had to investigate the depth of financial frauds committed by Dee Dee over the years. The Blanchards were given free medical air-lifts, fully paid trip to Disney Land and a home to live in, all because of Gypsy's disabilities.
On June 24, 2015 the prosecution presented the primary evidence it had against Gypsy and persecuted on the charges of murder in the first degree. Gypsy pleaded guilty resulting in a 10-year sentence. Greene Country prosecutor Dan Patterson had presented the text messages between Gypsy and Nick as evidence which proved that she had prior knowledge about the murder. She had wrote to Nick, "...we'll be happy soon. After this night, we will never bring it up."
The most important detail the documentary added to the unravelling story of Dee Dee and Gypsy was a conversation with the former after she was sentenced to jail. She sits down for her 'first honest conversation' and exudes nervous excitement at the fact that she is doing something like this. When she was asked about her mother, Gypsy said that she was unique and overprotective.
"I barely thought I was abused. You see when you have lived your entire life that way, you do not understand the difference," she explained about her situation. She had believed that she had asthma, epilepsy, hearing impairment, vision impairment, was paralysed from the waist down and more.
She also recalled the amount of medication that she had had over the years, the first surgery that she remembered being performed on her and discomfort of using a breathing machine overnight every day for years. She added that her mother would calm her down before hospital visits and tell her 'to play with the dolls and not move your legs'.
Gypsy also spoke about the time when she had first tried to run away from her mother. Her mother had not only smashed her things but also warned her that, if Gypsy were to try running away ever again, her fingers would be smashed too. She was tied to the bed with a dog leash and a pair of handcuffs for two weeks after the incident.
In the documentary, Dean says that this was not just about two scheming people but it goes deeper than that. The documentary also records how Gypsy's father Rod Blanchard did not have any idea that Gypsy was a healthy child. In fact, he confessed how Dee Dee told him that Gypsy wouldn't live past her teenage years because of her medical conditions. Rod also laid out tens of pictures of Gypsy and of Gypsy with himself over the years as he spoke about the number of surgeries that she had got for various medical conditions, which might not even have existed.
'The Act', based on Gypsy's life, her struggles and her rebellion, premieres March 20 on Hulu.