'The Act' premiere review: Joey King impresses with her spectacular transformation, as Dee Dee begins to spin a web of lies
'The Act' starring Patricia Arquette and Joey King premieres Wednesday on Hulu. The first two episodes will be aired on the streaming site.
This article may contain some spoilers
Nick Antosca, one of the writers of Hulu's all-new show, 'The Act', said the tale they wanted to tell was not about the infamous murder of Dee Dee Blanchard that occurred in 2015, but the more sinister and unbelievable backstory in connection with the murder. And so, from the get-go of the show that premiered Wednesday, we see the story is buried deep.
There is Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) and her daughter Gypsy (Joey King) as how the world portrayed them versus the mother-daughter that we have come to know through the extensive coverage after the incident. The parallels that run through your mind, is what makes the start of the show interesting.
The most fascinating part about the show is the way it has captured Gypsy's life in the presence of her mother Dee Dee. While sitting down for breakfast is the most normal of activities in our day to day lives, for Gypsy, it's a time when her body gets fed through a pipe. She has probably never tasted real food or enjoyed a delicacy, and to see it take form on screen is intense.
Her bedtime stories are followed by wearing an oxygen mask instead of a kiss and day in, and day out, Dee Dee keeps drilling the fact that they depend on each other and will continue to protect each other to the point of masking the truth that would have otherwise been clearly visible.
The subtlety shown in the relationship between mother and daughter, at the beginning of the show, gets more pronounced as Gypsy begins to ask more questions. "I wish we don't have to move again," says Gypsy at one moment and there is a look of hope mixed with dread at the possibility of it. That's where it can be seen that King is nowhere on screen - it's all Gypsy.
She is the one who elicits feelings of sympathy in you as she wishes to dress up as Disney character 'Ariel' for her next convention. Gypsy making her first friend, coming in contact with a girl her own age, who has a boyfriend and how her curiosity is piqued, makes for good screen-time, but here's the thing about 'The Act' - the show has no surprises to throw at you.
So, if you are looking for a shocking revelation or a plot twist, you will be disappointed. Considering that the show is based on a true story which has been reported on quite a bit since 2015, this true crime anthology series is all about understanding the nuances in a relationship, the nuances of self-discovery, the shades of guilt followed by redemption at the face of accusations and throughout it all - Gypsy's struggle.
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The first episode is fascinating as we are introduced to the main players and the equation between the Blanchards and their neighbors as it builds up is interesting. The second episode is when we see a hint of Dee Dee losing her calm when Gypsy's dentist begins to doubt Gypsy's history of medical conditions. Each episode has a main revelation at the heart of it - the first is centered on what Gypsy's really capable of, while the second is about Dee Dee's immense control in the face of doubt.
What works in favor of the show is the stunning performances by the lead cast - Arquette and King. King's physical transformation, how she has emulated Gypsy in the show and the range of emotion she portrayed in the first couple of hours is applaudable.
While the performances will be talked about, the show itself might find itself in trouble as it has to keep viewers hooked for eight hours. Without a plot twist throughout the series, eight hours for this show might be stretching it a little too far, but we will have to wait and see how the rest of the season unravels.