Whether it's a documentary or series, people love a terrifying, true tale. Hulu joins the party with The Act, and it's one of the more disturbing crime dramas you'll ever see. The story follows the complex relationship between a severely ill child, Gypsy Rose, and her doting mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. While nothing in that description meets the "true crime" description, the series unravels a seven-year thread of chilling behaviors that ultimately end in murder. So wait, how accurate is The Act?
The truest adaptations are the most frightening — and The Act is an eerily true-to-life look at the secret life of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose. If you're not familiar with the gritty details, The Act shows Dee Dee, who claims Gypsy Rose suffered from a laundry list of medical conditions: leukemia, muscular dystrophy, asthma, epilepsy, and more. She lived most of her life in a wheelchair and at one point was fed through a tube. On the outside, Gypsy Rose was a tragically sick girl, with a mother who'd go to any lengths to help her child. The reality is something much darker. Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, which is a mental illness described as faking a child's illness or traumatic event to garner sympathy and attention. But wait — it gets worse.
Once Gypsy Rose suspected she wasn't sick at all — and that she was older than her mother said — everything fell apart. Befuddled doctors found inconsistencies in medical records, but nothing was enough to spark legal intervention. Once Gypsy's reality crumbled, she rebelled by sneaking onto the computer where she began a sexually explicit online relationship with Nick Godejohn of Wisconsin. The two eventually plotted to have Nick murder Dee Dee, which he did. Gypsy Rose was found hiding out in Godejohn's Wisconsin home after police realized she hadn't been kidnapped, which they believed following disturbing Facebook posts about Dee Dee, and that she wasn't sick at all. In fact, she helped execute this plan to get rid of her mother. Gypsy Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is now serving a 10-year sentence while Godejohn — whom Gypsy testified against as part of her plea deal — was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life.
Season 1 of The Act provides all of the backstory necessary to see when things went wrong. Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose gained national attention after an article posted by Buzzfeed News covered the bizarre story, bringing attention to Dee Dee's behavior and Gypsy Rose's suggested illnesses. The Act is largely based on everything covered in that article, which was written by Michelle Dean (who is also co-showrunner, producer, and writer for The Act). It's a true crime saga stranger than fiction and performances by Joey King as Gypsy Rose, and Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee will haunt your dreams. For even more information on Dee Dee and Gypsy, catch the HBO documentary Mommy, Dead and Dearest.
If you're into true crime any way you can get it, The Act is about to wreck you in more ways than you're probably ready for. You can't make this twisted stuff up.
The Act airs Wednesdays on Hulu.