If you haven’t already binge-watched The Act on Hulu, you’ve likely heard of it. The series tells the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a woman currently serving 10 years for second-degree murder of her mother – a mother who abused her and made everyone around her believe Gypsy was horribly sick for years.
This disturbing story debuted on March 20, 2019. Actress Joey King plays Gypsy and Patricia Arquette plays Dee Dee, her mother. The story has created quite a buzz since its release, impacting critics, fans, and Gypsy Rose herself.
Gypsy Rose’s Early Life and Many “Diagnoses”
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was born in 1991 in Louisiana and to this day has not lived a single moment as a “normal girl.” From the time she was born, her mother pretended she had myriad serious illnesses. She tricked doctors, communities, and family members into believing her daughter could not walk, suffered mental handicaps, and was hopeless and dependent on her.
One of the first “diagnoses” Dee Dee claimed Gypsy had was sleep apnea. She convinced those around her of this when Gypsy was just a baby. When Gypsy was eight, Dee Dee claimed her daughter was suffering leukaemia and muscular dystrophy, leading her to require a wheelchair and feeding tube. Dee Dee would later describe Gypsy’s medical problems as also including seizures, and asthma, along with mental, hearing, and visual impairments.
Because of Dee Dee’s claims, Gypsy was forced to take multiple unnecessary medications. She also was forced to use a breathing machine for sleeping and had to undergo multiple harmful surgeries, including operations on her eyes and saliva glands. Gypsy’s teeth finally rotted, probably due to the numerous neglectful conditions, and were pulled out.
However, Gypsy Rose Blanchard had nothing wrong with her. She could walk, absolutely didn’t need a feeding tube or sleeping machine, and didn’t even have cancer. Likely, Dee Dee created this illusion due to a mental disorder called Munchausen syndrome by proxy, or MSBP. People with this diagnosis thrive on being caretakers and will fake and even induce illnesses or injuries in those they care for. Dee Dee also received accolades and financial support for her apparent dedication as a caregiver.
How Dee Dee Fooled Them All
The real story about Gypsy and her mother did not unfold until after Dee Dee’s death in 2015. Dee Dee had kept the lie alive for 24 years.
Whenever medical tests disproved her claims, Dee would just stop seeing those doctors and move on. She also used her moderate nurse’s training to precisely describe symptoms and give Gypsy medication to emulate specific conditions.
Dee Dee also knew how to manipulate and schmooze, staying one step ahead of others. If Gypsy tried to talk in public about her situation, Dee Dee would squeeze her hand, which she always held, to warn her that she should not offer any information to those outside the home, including doctors. Furthermore, if any family members noticed Gypsy didn’t need a wheelchair and started to ask questions, Dee Dee simply moved herself and her daughter to another location.
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Gypsy Rose Has Enough
In June of 2015 Gypsy managed to convince a boy named Nicholas Godejohn to help kill her mother. She’d met him on a Christian dating site and told him about her past. He went to Gypsy’s home and stabbed Dee Dee. Gypsy hid in the bathroom, covering her ears.
As to why Gypsy chose to kill her mother instead of just trying to flee and get to the police, she feared what her mother would do. She also didn’t think anyone who knew them would believe her. According to Dr. Marc Feldman, expert of MSBP, “The control was total in the same sense that the control of a kidnapped victim sometimes is total. Her daughter was, in essence, a hostage, and I think we can understand the crime that occurred subsequently in terms of a hostage trying to gain escape.”
In Prison and Engaged – The Aftermath
Fortunately, medical records proving Gypsy’s abuse enabled her to receive a plea deal of 10 years, eligible for parole in 2024. In 2018, Godejohn was found guilty of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.
As one can imagine, Gypsy is now the freest she has ever been. She is currently working on getting her GED and has a fiancé whom she met through letters he sent to her at prison. He began writing her after watching the HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest,” which is about Gypsy’s life. They plan to get married once she gets out of prison.
Sources say Gypsy approves of Joey King being cast as herself in The Act but is uncomfortable about the series exposing her life. Also, even though she feels good to be free of the abuse and neglect she sustained for 24 years, she feels sadness that her mother is gone.