The Act

The+Act

Riley Gilliland, Pop Culture Journalist

Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard seemed like the perfect mother-daughter duo. They were often shown as extremely loving and caring towards one another, especially since the only thing that they had was each other. However, they seemed a little “too perfect” and everything was not as it seemed. According to Dee Dee, Gypsy had numerous ailments, such as epilepsy and muscular dystrophy, which rendered her unable to walk. She had to use a wheelchair, experienced eye problems, and Dee Dee could recite a long list of other symptoms. , She was the only one who knew to take care of Gypsy. In order to evade questions and suspicions,  Gypsy and Dee Dee would move constantly but never stop in the same place twice, and Gypsy’s medical records would disappear along with them each they moved. Yet how could someone who was not even remotely close to being sick, pretend to be sick? Behind the scenes of this loving and sweet act was something much darker happening. Gypsy wasn’t ill at all–she was a perfectly normal girl. Dee Dee, however, believed her to be ill and made everyone believe the lies along with her.

 

For years, whenever someone met them and asked about Gypsy’s situation, Dee Dee would drone on and on about how sick Gypsy was, what medications she needed for all her ailments, and how grateful she is to be the one to help her. Behind closed doors, however, things weren’t so loving as they were made out to be. Dee Dee forced Gypsy to sit in a wheelchair, despite being able to walk, wear big glasses to make her appear younger, shave Gypsy’s head to make her look more ill, and sometimes even carry around an oxygen tank as well. Eventually, Gypsy began to grow curious about the world outside the safe one that her mother had created for her and started to search for answers on the internet. She even asked her neighbor, Aleah Woodmansee, about boys. Aleah, unknowingly, introduced her to dating websites where Gypsy would later meet her future boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn. Nicholas Godejohn and Gypsy began to communicate in secret and plot for a way to let Gypsy escape from Dee Dee. In 2015, a random Facebook post has appeared about how someone was “…finally dead.” Aleah’s mother, Amy, grew concerned about the post and wanted to check up on them. Her husband broke in through the window and found that both Dee Dee and Gypsy were gone. They had called the police and found Dee Dee had been murdered in cold blood.

 

The police tracked the Facebook post to Wisconsin and it turns out that Gypsy, with the help of Nick, was the one who had killed Dee Dee. Nick committed the actual murder, while Gypsy herself admitted that she was the “mastermind” behind it all. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder, while Gypsy was sentenced to ten years for second-degree murder due to assisting Nick in the act. People often wonder why they did this, but the bigger reason for doing it was to escape from Dee Dee. After her death, doctors ruled that she probably had Munchausen Syndrome, which is a mental disorder where someone is “sick” but in actuality, they are the ones causing themselves to be sick. In Dee Dee’s case, however, it was considered Munchausen by proxy because she was causing someone else to be sick.

 

Recently, Hulu has created a new show called The Act, based upon the lives of Gypsy and Dee Dee Blanchard. The show did a fair job of portraying certain events that actually did happen.  When Dee Dee was being murdered, for instance, Gypsy was in another room covering her ears, and when Dee Dee smashed Gypsy’s laptop, it was because she did not want her looking up “inappropriate” things. However, the show made quite a few changes to the story for dramatization. It would sometimes overexaggerate Gypsy’s forced medication, Dee Dee’s physical abuse, and the show’s creators even made up new “characters.”

 

Fiction (The Act) Fact (Reality)
  • Lacey and Mel do not exist
  • Mel finds Dee Dee’s body
  • The show over exaggerates the physical abuse of Gypsy, how she is treated in public, and how she is given her medications for her numerous ailments
  • It also does not emphasize how many ailments Dee Dee made up, the only focus is really on how she can’t walk, has no hair because it is shaved (this is shown in the show) and that she “cannot eat sugar” (which is entirely made up and overdramatized)
  • Nick is the mastermind behind the whole plan
  • The show also depicts Gypsy as a rebellious teen who talks back to her mother, which results in physical abuse, such as being tied up to a bedpost,  and a villain or antagonist
  • Nick Godejohn is depicted as extremely awkward, a lazy bum, and only cares about having sexual intercourse with Gypsy
  • Lacey is based on Gypsy’s neighbor, Aleah
  • Kim Blanchard’s husband crawls through a window does not find her, yet he found Gypsy’s wheelchairs empty and Gypsy was gone
  • Gypsy confessed to being the one to control it yet she could have also been somewhat silent due to not being able to voice her opinions for years
  • Gypsy was innocent in some ways, such as knowing that she could walk yet did not know to speak up either out of fear or purely not knowing due to her mother making it the norm, however, she also contributes and helped plan the murder of her mother
  • This could have been true, but the show chose to really focus on their relationship and base it on their sexual tendencies

 

Comparison of Aleah to Lacey, a character based on her in the show

(Photo: Hulu and HBO)

Comparison of Calum Worthy and Nick Godejohn

(Photo: Hulu and Vulture)

 

Comparison of Gypsy Rose to Joey King

(Photo: Emjay 90s on YouTube)

 

Sources:

The Act, Hulu

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/michelledean/dee-dee-wanted-her-daughter-to-be-sick-gypsy-wanted-her-mom

https://www.tvinsider.com/gallery/the-act-cast-vs-real-people/#11

http://www.pajiba.com/tv_reviews/the-true-story-behind-the-act-and-the-reallife-gypsy-rose-and-dee-dee-blanchard-ep-7.php

https://www.intouchweekly.com/posts/what-was-gypsy-rose-blanchards-boyfriends-sentence/ https://www.intouchweekly.com/posts/debunking-the-act-episode-7-with-gypsy-rose-blanchards-family/