The Act: Not the Best Mother-Daughter Relationship

Alejandro Munoz, Reporter

This week, I found myself spending my late nights binge watching Hulu’s “The Act”. The show, starring Joey King and Patricia Arquette, showcased the life of Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard, and their strained mother daughter relationship.


The story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and how she murdered her mother after years of psychological abuse in 2015 made the rounds in the news when her mother’s body was discovered, and after with the preceding publicized trial. I asked Morgan Cleary, a 12th grader at UHS, whether he recognized the case, to which he responded, “ Yeah and I think that was a pretty good idea to make a show about it.”


 Gypsy, who was supposedly wheelchair bound and trapped in a 14 year old body with the mind of a 7 year old, was actually able-bodied, perfectly capable of being able to walk, and not only did she have a good head on her shoulders, but she wasn’t 14; she was actually 19 years old. 


As the story goes on, we learn that Dee Dee, Gypsy’s mom, suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, creating fake illnesses for Gypsy over the years, and lying to Gypsy about her health and well-being in order to get money from charity foundations to make a better life for her and Gypsy. Even when Gypsy finds out about all the lies that she has been told, she is still trapped, psychologically, in these lies and the story her mom has created because she believes that if she tries to get out and tell the truth both her and her mother will go to prison.


As Gypsy grows more mature, she begins to grow rebellious towards her mother, and over time hardens and comes to despise her mother for the life that she has trapped her in, the abuse that she has to suffer, and the freedom that she can’t have because Dee Dee won’t give it to her. 


On a laptop that she wasn’t supposed to have, she meets a mentally ill but compassionate boy, Nick Godejohn, played by Calum Worthy, who she confides in and starts a relationship with. It is with Godejohn that she makes a plan to murder her mother and run away to start a new life. And she does it. She has Nick kill her mother. She takes the money that her mother has been collecting from donations. And she runs away to Big Bend Wisconsin… only to get caught days later and then sent to prison where she is convicted of second-degree murder and given a 10 year sentence. And that’s where the story ends.


I was so invested in this series. Every night that I would get back from work, I would be itching to go to my bed, pull up Hulu, and continue where I left off. I have found that since I have had my free time open up more, I find a lot of enjoyment in sitting down and watching new series. Tommy Schupp, UHS Senior, told me he felt the same way. “Every night I sit down with my family and we watch a movie or show together. It’s good bonding and it’s nice to give the mind a little break.” 


Each actor that played an important role, whether it was  Joey King and Patricia Arquette displaying the love-hate relationship between the Blanchards, AnnaSophia Robb and Chloë Sevigny showing the effects the Blachards have on their community, or Calum Worthy playing a sick man doing everything, good and very very bad, for his love, did an amazing job at portraying their characters. In fact, Mya Largent, BHS senior, commented on the show, “Joey King was so believable as Gypsy, it was kind of scary.”


And it was not just the actors that did their job so well. The editing of this show was extremely well done. Particularly in the final episodes of the show, segways and transitions from one scene to another were blended seamlessly. They flowed very well, and at the same time, they created parallels between Gypsy’s and Dee Dee’s life, and found ways to display themes of the show in a creative way. The last two episodes feature scenes that revealed that Dee Dee was also abused by her mother, which helped me to have empathy for Dee Dee and showed me how similar both the Blanchards’ situations with their mothers were.


The show captures how Dee Dee’s abuses all came from places of love for her daughter and a fear of losing her like she did once before in her life, watch the show to find out when. The Act shows how Gypsy fought in herself between the love that she had for her mother as her caretaker and, in reality, her only friend, and with the tiredness and hate she had developed after years of being lied to and used, and how that led to a decision to kill her mom.


I found that the final scene was really beautiful and encapsulating of the series. It ends with Gyspy, tired and alone in her jail cell, leaning over to lay her head on her bed, only to have it rest on her mother’s shoulder, reminding us that she is again trapped, and although she wants someone to be there like her mother was for her all those years, she can’t go back. Her mother is gone and it’s her fault. And all she can do is dwell on the memories that she has of her. And on that cheery note, I would definitely recommend anyone reading this to pick up their laptop, make some free time in your schedule, and watch this show.