By Alexis Jones
Do you remember the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard? The young woman, now 27, is serving out a prison sentence for the second-degree murder of her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who told her daughter that Gypsy Rose was terminally ill with leukemia, epilepsy, heart murmurs and a host of other illnesses—though Gypsy Rose hadn't been diagnosed with any of them. The story, a chilling illustration of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, is the inspiration behind Hulu's new true-crime anthology series, The Act.
The Act stars The Kissing Booth's Joey King as Gypsy Blanchard and Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette as her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. Hulu describes the series as "a girl trying to escape the toxic relationship she has with her overprotective mother." It's true, but it's also so much more than that.
Here's a quick refresh if you don't remember the tabloid-grabbing story: Gypsy Rose Blanchard lived the majority of her life sheltered, having been convinced by her mother, Dee Dee, that she was not only terminally sick but could not exceed the mental capacity of a seven-year-old. All the while, Dee Dee collected checks from charities and the government and played the role of the doting mother in public. It's thought that Dee Dee suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental illness that forces a person to act as if they are caring for someone who is physically or mentally ill.
When Gypsy Rose was in her teens, she slowly began uncovering the truth: Everything from her illness to her age had been a lie, perpetuated by her mother. And in 2015, with the help of Gypsy Rose's internet boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, Dee Dee Blanchard was murdered.
Gypsy Rose now serves a 10-year sentence at the Missouri Chillicothe Correctional Center, having been convicted of second-degree murder. Godejohn serves life for the first-degree murder of Dee Blanchard.
Since her conviction, Gypsy Rose has spoken out publicly about the murder. She filmed a Dr. Phil interview in 2017 from the Missouri Chillicothe Correctional Center in which she expressed remorse over her mother's death. "No, she didn't deserve what happened," she told Dr. Phil. "If anything, she just deserved to be where I am."
According to Rolling Stone, Gypsy Rose will be up for parole in 2024, and in a HelloGiggles interview, Gypsy Rose's stepmother Kristy Blanchard told the publication that her stepdaughter has big plans for the future, and hopes to either attend culinary school or become a librarian upon her release from prison. Her GED is already in the works.
Gypsy Rose's cellmate once asked if she was afraid to start a family, given the trauma of her own upbringing. Gypsy Rose told Kristy her response: “What I have learned is how to not raise my child how my mom raised me," she said. "I am learning how to raise my child by [Kristy], my mom I have now. With compassion and with love, and being honest, and being there for your child for all the right reasons.”
The Act premieres on Hulu on March 20.
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