The Act – TV Review

One of this year’s most eagerly anticipated series, Hulu’s new project, “The Act,” stands out. Drawing inspiration from a true story, this eight-episode series boasts a cast that includes future stars like Joey King, Chloë Sevigny, and the enigmatic Patricia Arquette. Narrating the real-life tale of the Blanchard family, the series, while dramatizing certain facts, generally remains faithful to the original narrative. It serves as a compelling testament to the notion that real life can be far more terrifying than any horror film and introduces us to an entirely new kind of madness.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard is born as the daughter of Dee Dee Blanchard. However, Gypsy is different from other children in many ways. She is burdened with multiple congenital illnesses from birth, leading her to live her life in a wheelchair as a helpless, dependent girl suffering from several concurrent maladies. Fortunately, she has her mother by her side. Her loving mother, Dee Dee, tirelessly ensures their livelihood by traveling from city to city due to both financial constraints and the exigencies of the country. Apart from her physical ailments, Gypsy also grapples with intellectual disabilities, her mind remaining in a childlike state. Moved by Gypsy’s plight, charitable organizations consistently provide financial support to Dee Dee and the Blanchard family. This dual existence of the family, balancing life between home and hospital, is challenging.

The Act

However, the truth is far from what it seems. An intriguing post on Dee Dee Blanchard’s Facebook account raises concerns among her neighbors. Suspicion stemming from this post leads to a call to the police. When the authorities arrived at their home on June 14, 2015, they discovered Dee Dee Blanchard’s lifeless body. Meanwhile, Gypsy is missing. The police located the site from which the Facebook message was sent and conducted a raid, apprehending Gypsy and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn. In this manner, the hidden truths of the family are finally revealed.

Contrary to what was believed, Gypsy does not suffer from any illness, nor does she need a wheelchair. She can walk perfectly well. She has no need for tube feeding, and she is pretty intelligent. Her mother, however, had convinced her throughout her life that she was sick and went to great lengths to maintain this illusion. Despite being 23 years old, Dee Dee insisted Gypsy was 16, administering a multitude of medications that could stock an entire pharmacy, and deliberately applying incorrect treatments. Gypsy, who experienced seizures each time she returned home after a hospital visit, was subject to her mother’s manipulation, suffering from Munchausen by Proxy syndrome, all because Dee Dee loved her dearly.

The series unfolds as Gypsy slowly begins to realize that she is not actually ill after a doctor’s visit and develops a clandestine relationship with a man she meets on a friendship website, thanks to her neighbor. While her mother strives to keep Gypsy artificially sick, she secretly socializes during the nights. Gypsy, who was confined to a wheelchair, sheltered from the outside world, and unable to make friends due to threats for 23 years, starts to explore her true self. Having never been close to men her entire life, Gypsy deepens her relationship with Nick, someone willing to go to extreme lengths for her, even the unimaginable.

Munchausen by Proxy syndrome is a disturbing form of child abuse that is encountered in various places. Mothers who manipulate their children into illness under the guise of love, rendering them dependent, can also, when they desire, commit the gravest of acts. While researching this topic, I came across some horrifying accounts. For instance, there are individuals who inject their children with dog feces through a tube. The apprehension of these people is exceedingly challenging because the women afflicted with this syndrome are generally either former nurses or failed medical students. They initially present themselves as helpless patients in hospitals, gaining everyone’s trust, and then begin to covertly tamper with the children’s treatments. Due to their expertise, it is difficult for doctors to detect their actions. Dee Dee is just one of these women who suffer from this syndrome. For 23 years, she forcibly made her daughter ill and profited from various organizations, finding her own satisfaction in this perverse endeavor.

The Act

The series, featuring outstanding performances by Joey King and Patricia Arquette, masterfully recounts the harrowing journey of the Blanchard family. The fraudulent relationship between Gypsy and Dee Dee, Gypsy’s gradual awakening to her true needs, her growing curiosity about intimacy through the assistance of the internet, and her eventual escape and capture are all presented across eight episodes without losing their impact. Beyond the fluid storytelling, it is imperative to delve into Joey King’s exquisite acting. She continues her transformation into a star who will be with us for many years to come. She is a remarkable actress. Of course, Patricia Arquette is a force to be reckoned with as well. A seasoned actress, she portrays a deranged woman so convincingly that it’s impossible not to be irritated while watching her.

In essence, “The Act” constructs a deeply unsettling real-life adaptation by meticulously weaving the narrative of a true story. As we observe the young girl, initially imprisoned in her home, gradually discovering the truth, and then confronting the harsh realities of the outside world after her escape, the series offers a poignant portrayal. Despite the abuse she endures at home, Gypsy, who was treated like a delicate doll, learns that life extends beyond the confines of her house. Joey King’s performance brilliantly conveys this transformation to the audience.

One of the most compelling aspects of projects like “The Act” is that they remind us, once again, that real life can be far more terrifying than the world of fiction.

Cast & Crew

creator: Nick Antosca, Michelle Dean

starring: Patricia Arquette, Joey King, Chloë Sevigny, AnnaSophia Robb, Calum Worthy 

USA | 2019 | 8 EPISODES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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