The Act: an eyeopening true story

The act is available to stream on Hulu

The act is available to stream on Hulu

Gracie Mena, Rampage Reporter

The Gypsy Rose Blanchard story has captivated the minds of many Americans and sheds light on a less common form of parental abuse due to mental illness, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, that ended in tragedy. The Act series on Hulu is a show that is based on the true events of Gypsy’s life. Spoilers will be included in this article, so if you want everything to be a surprise when you watch the series, you might not want to keep reading.

The Blanchard story tells the plot of the life-long abuse Gypsy endured at the hands of her mom Dee Dee. Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy had many diseases and medical conditions since she was a newborn. These included leukemia, asthma, hearing and vision impairment, epilepsy, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, learning disabilities, and so many more. She claimed these conditions forced Gypsy to lose her hair (thus shaving her head) and live in a wheelchair for years.

Additionally, the long list of medications Dee Dee gave Gypsy caused more problems, requiring more treatments.

Now, if you don’t already know, Dee Dee Blanchard was murdered in her home by Gypsy’s online boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn. Gypsey felt the only way to escape her mother’s grip was to kill her. The two formulated a plan to kill her and went through with it.

In the first episode of the series, the first scene reveals that someone in the Blanchard family is deceased. As the series moves on it shows more and more of the murder. After small snippets are shown, it cuts to scenes that reveal the day to day life of Gypsy living with her mother in their new house that Habitat for Humanity built for them.

Gypsy starts to form a relationship with her neighbor, Lacy. Gypsy asks Lacy about her boyfriend and seems fascinated by the idea. As the series moves forward and her mother’s control becomes more obvious, Gypsy learns about her mom’s lies concerning her health and age. Gypsey starts to live a double life at night, using a computer she bought. Gypsy also uses a phone to talk to men. She even runs away to meet up with a man she met. Soon after Dee Dee, found her to bring her home and smashed her computer. This event mirrored event from Gypsey’s real life, as she revealed in a Dr.Phil interview.

Gypsy continues to talk to men online, where she meets Nick with Lacy’s help. Nick and Gypsy’s relationship goes on for years. They even formulated plans to “meet” in public. While Gypsy is living this double life, Dee Dee is declining mentally and physically. This creates some irony within the plot.

Towards the end of the series, Gypsy and Nick’s actions after the murder are shown before the actual murder scene. They travel to Nick’s house and continue a normal life, leaving big clues behind. When they are caught by police, Gypsy initially claims to not be involved in the murder. Her guilt is evident, and the police caught on to that with Nick’s truthful words. The last episode shows the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard, though not very graphically, as it is mostly Gypsy in the bathroom, covering her ears. This scene is intense and from what I have learned online, it is accurate.

It was during Gypsey’s trial, that she learned the extent of her mother’s control. Gypsy learned that she never really had any of the serious medical conditions as her mother claimed. Dee Dee had full control over Gypsy and lied about many things including Gypsy’s age. The Blanchards lived off donations, child support, and disability money from the state. Although Gypsy’s father paid child support, he barely ever saw her because Dee Dee did not allow it.

The accuracy of the show is a topic of debate online. A documentary called Mommy Dead and Dearest shows the reality of Gypsy, Nick, and Dee Dee’s lives within their twisted relationships.

First off, Gypsy did have a very close relationship with her neighbor, Aleah Woodmansee. They did talk about boys, because Gypsy wanted to, like they did in the show. Aleah reveals in the documentary that Dee Dee did not allow them privacy whenever they would hang out, which limited what they could talk about, as is shown in the early episodes of the series.

The documentary also has lots of footage that seems to be carbon copies of scenes from the show, like the interrogations. The interrogations of Gypsy, Nick, and Nick’s parents are the same in The Act as they are in the actual footage. The only difference is that Nick’s parents are interrogated separately in the real footage, not questioned together. The words spoken in the interviews are unchanged.

Other things showcased in the series are accurate including Gypsy’s and Nick’s appearance and actions. Someone also came to the Blanchard house to check on Gypsy. The depiction of Nick and Gypsy’s online relationship, including their sometimes-sexual video chats, was accurate as well. Gypsy had different costumes for different personas she acted as for Nick. Nick has multiple personalities, so they came up with different characters for Gypsy to act as for his other identities. This is conveyed in the series through Gypsy’s differing appearances while they video chatted.

One difference that has been noted online is the physical and mental state of Dee Dee Blanchard. As the series progresses, she seems to be declining both mentally and physically. In the show she is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which multiple sources say that she did in fact have diabetes. Mentally, many people define her mental condition as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Although evident in the show, it appears she has other underlying mental disorders. This is inaccurate. It has been rumored that Gypsy does not think the portrayal of her mom in the show is accurate, because in real life she wasn’t noticeably mentally ill as she is in the show. Gypsy has not been able to watch the show, but her family has described it to her.

Overall, the show is pretty accurate and very eye opening. Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a form of mental illness that leads to abuse and The Act brings light to it. The series not only brings attention to Gypsy’s case, but possibly others. If people can are aware of and can see the signs of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, they may be more able to step in and help a victim.

I recommend that everyone watch it because it is very interesting, although disturbing and intense during some scenes.