How Accurate Is ‘The Act’ to Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Life?

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Hulu’s The Act accurately portrays the toxic and deluded relationship between Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose, highlighting Dee Dee’s lies and overbearing tendencies.
  • The show takes some creative liberties but generally stays true to the main details of what happened to Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee.
  • Gypsy Rose’s relationship with Nick is accurately depicted, although in real life, Nick shifts the blame to Gypsy and calls her a mastermind for manipulating him.


Gypsy Rose Blanchard is out of prison and has become a social media sensation overnight. Her story has blown up across all platforms — but long before her release, its notoriety led to a dramatized limited series called The Act. If you’re unfamiliar with what happened, in 2015, Blanchard and her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, conspired to kill her mom, Dee Dee Blanchard. There wasn’t a lack of motive for this crime, however. For her whole life, Dee Dee had lied to Gypsy Rose about many of her conditions and ailments. Gypsy Rose was a victim of Munchausen by proxy, and her mother embellished and lied about everything that was wrong with her, including her ability to walk.

Hulu’s The Act takes viewers through Gypsy Rose’s life, including her mother’s overbearing tendencies and malicious lies. We see Gypsy Rose develop her sense of self, test her body’s limits, and discover she is a perfectly healthy teenager. She starts to develop an interest in boys and meets one online, and that’s when she begins to plot the murder of her mother. But how accurate is The Act to what happened to the real Gypsy Rose Blanchard? By all accounts, The Act seems to fly just as close to the sun as it can regarding what is real and what isn’t.

The Act

Release Date
March 20, 2019

Creator
Nick Antosca, Michelle Dean

Seasons
1

Streaming Service(s)
Hulu


How Accurate Is ‘The Act’s Portrayal of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard?

In The Act, Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) and Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s (Joey King) story picks up in Springfield, Missouri, after the two move away from Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. All of that is true to the real story. Arquette portrays Dee Dee in a very compassionate and caring way, at least outwardly towards her neighbors. Anyone who witnessed Gypsy Rose and her mother together seemed to conclude that Dee Dee was a selfless saint, and a BuzzFeed article on the crime echoes that sentiment.

Meanwhile, King’s portrayal of Gypsy Rose is very meek, mild, and incredibly childlike, leading to a mystery surrounding her real age. The Act shows her discovering her social security card, which suggests she was born earlier than initially believed — and, at the time when the series takes place, is actually almost 18. An article by The Guardian does mention that Dee Dee did lie to Gypsy Rose about her age. In The Act, any time that Dee Dee is prompted about what’s wrong with Gypsy Rose, she has a laundry list of ailments at the ready, always making sure to let everyone know that, although Gypsy Rose is a teenager, she has the mind of a seven-year-old — and urges everyone to treat her that way. BuzzFeed reiterates that the real Dee Dee often recited those ailments and reminded many of Gypsy Rose’s “true mental age” when dealing with her. In terms of its portrayal of these real figures, The Act seems to have done its best to honor Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose accurately, all the way down to their accents.

Were Any of Gypsy Rose’s Health Concerns Real?

One detail that The Act uses as a pivotal moment in the story is Gypsy Rose’s supposed sugar allergy, revealing that Dee Dee keeps her daughter from consuming sugar as a result of this purported sensitivity. In the series, Gypsy Rose slowly begins to test those boundaries by drinking Coca-Cola at night. When she discovers that there are no medical side effects, she repeatedly sneaks out of bed at night to have candy, soda, and anything else she can get her hands on. In the show, this leads to Gypsy Rose’s teeth rotting out and having to be replaced with veneers. Unfortunately, this particular detail has never been confirmed, and in an interview with Vulture, Kristy Blanchard, Gypsy Rose’s stepmother, couldn’t confirm that aspect either, as it is more widely suspected that Gypsy Rose’s seizure medication is what led to her dental issues.

Yet another lie that Dee Dee tells Gypsy Rose is that she can’t walk — but relatively early on in The Act, Gypsy is aware of her mother’s dishonesty, frequently getting out of her wheelchair when her mother isn’t around to use her legs. Dee Dee’s claim in the series is that Gypsy Rose has muscular dystrophy, and while this proved not to be true, this lie was also wielded against Gypsy Rose in real life, as Dee Dee reportedly told her daughter that she had a disease and needed a wheelchair.

Was Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Father Truly Absent?

Dee-Dee and Gypsy Rose

One aspect of The Act that Dee Dee repeats is that Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, left them because he didn’t want to have to deal with a sick child and all the accompanying stress. In a few scenes, Rod, played by Cliff Chamberlain, calls to speak to Gypsy Rose, and Dee Dee either rushes him off the phone or urges him not to speak with her so that he doesn’t inadvertently reveal her real age. Gypsy Rose has very little interaction with him throughout the series, and knows even less when it comes to the truth about her father. These details ring true in many real-life accounts, and Rod Blanchard also recounted being rushed off the phone or asked not to speak about certain things to Gypsy Rose. In the same interview, Rod mentions that his relationship with Gypsy Rose has been stronger than ever after she spent time in prison and is no longer under the sway of her mother’s delusions.

Is Gypsy Rose and Nick’s Relationship Depicted Accurately?

gypsy-rose-nick-godejohn-the-act

Nicholas Godejohn (Calum Worthy) becomes Gypsy Rose’s boyfriend in The Act after she finds him on an online dating site. The two hit it off pretty well, and Nick provides the escape from reality that Gypsy Rose is seeking. There isn’t much revealed about Nick in the series besides the depiction of his learning disabilities, as well as the fact that he claims to have a “dark side,” which is ultimately what Gypsy Rose leans on as the two conspire over text about how to kill Dee Dee and when. Eventually, they also start partaking in an online BDSM relationship. According to Oxygen, those aspects are true. Nick revealed his BDSM fantasies to Gypsy, and they began exchanging deep, dark fantasies together.

On June 9, 2015, Nick showed up at Gypsy Rose’s house and stabbed Dee Dee to death while Gypsy Rose hid in her bedroom. The two fled to Wisconsin, where Nick lived, and hid until police found them. Much of what was shown between Nick and Gypsy Rose’s relationship is accurate based on text messages and other social media pages. In The Act, it does feel as though Nick is still very much in love with Gypsy and pining away for her when they’re behind bars. However, in 2018, Godejohn did lay the blame on Gypsy Rose, calling her a mastermind in real life for manipulating him to murder her mother. So, while The Act depicts that Nick continues to love and adore Gypsy in the wake of Dee Dee’s murder, real life shows that their relationship changed after they both had to face the consequences of their actions.

While there may be some small details that The Act doesn’t get completely right, considering the number of lies Dee Dee Blanchard spewed, it can be hard to track what’s real and what isn’t. That said, if you want to watch a digestible and easy-to-follow timeline of what happened to Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard, The Act covers all the main details of what really happened.

The Act is streaming now on Hulu.

Watch on Hulu



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