Hulu's *The Act* Review: It's Horrifying, Human, and So Hard to Stop Watching

Hulu's new true-crime series The Act, now streaming, delivers its first big shock in episode two, when all of Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King)'s teeth are pulled out at the request of her own mother. Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) puts her daughter through such a heinous procedure to help her, presumably, but the entire thing feels sinister. Does Gypsy really need this done? The fact you have to ask is disturbing in itself.

The aftermath is just as hard to watch. Gypsy's miserable. She cries in the bathtub while her mother assures her fake veneers are on the way. One day, two days, three days go by—but still, Gypsy has no teeth. She's so upset about it that she tells Dee Dee she no longer wants to attend an upcoming charity event, where she's supposed to collect a monstrous check.

It's only in the midnight hour—right as Gypsy's about to go on stage—that Dee Dee gives her the veneers. "Thank you, mommy, but why didn't you give these to me before?" Gypsy asks. To which Dee Dee says, "They just came this morning, fresh from the dentist. It's like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight. Does the glass slipper fit?"

The timing is strange, to say the least. At best, it's a coincidence. At worst, Dee Dee purposefully kept the veneers from Gypsy and sprung them on her to look like a hero. This type of psychological manipulation is rampant in The Act, which is based on the Munchausen by proxy horror story that rocked the world in 2016. You remember it: Dee Dee Blanchard intentionally made her teenage daughter, Gypsy, sick for most of her life. In June 2015, Gypsy retaliated by conspiring with her online boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, to murder her mother. HBO highlighted the case in the documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest. It's a grisly, unfathomable story. And now, the brains behind The Act want to humanize it.

"Over the years people have asked me, 'Is this or that person in the story a psychopath?' or, 'What's wrong with these people?' Ultimately, I don't think there's anything wrong with them," Michelle Dean, who wrote the BuzzFeed article that inspired The Act, tells Glamour. (She's also credited as a co-showrunner and screenwriter on the series.) "I think we all have our pathologies. Dee Dee's was deeper than most, and Gypsy's was deeper than most because of what her mother did to her. It was a lot more human than the crazy tabloid profile of the story."

Published at Wed, 20 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000