Hulu’s new true-crime series, The Act, is based on the horrific story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Dee Dee Blanchard. Dee Dee, Gypsy’s mother, pretended her daughter was younger than she was and had her treated for multiple ailments, keeping her daughter wheelchair bound for sicknesses that she really didn’t have. Gypsy ended up losing her teeth and was even on a feeding tube because of the hoaxes her mother was perpetuating about her health. Gypsy later escaped after her boyfriend killed her mother, stabbing her multiple times. Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and her boyfriend was found guilty of first-degree murder. But how much of Hulu’s The Act is portraying all of this accurately?
Much of this horrifying story is accurate, but not all of it according to Gypsy Blanchard’s family. The story of Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose, including the horrific medical treatments that Dee Dee had Gypsy undergo because of Dee Dee’s Munchausen By Proxy, is real. And the boyfriend that Gypsy met online, who ultimately killed Dee Dee, is also real. But some other details are not.
In real life, Dee Dee began finding “problems” with Gypsy Rose when she was only three months old, concerned her daughter had sleep apnea, Marie Claire reported. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong despite three rounds of tests. That’s when Dee Dee was certain Gypsy had a chromosomal defect and couldn’t be held because she was so sick. Things escalated from there. Ultimately, Dee Dee had Gypsy “diagnosed” with cancer, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, seizures requiring medication, and disorders that required a feeding tube to eat. All in all, she was treated by at least 150 doctors, Marie Claire shared.
But some of the individual relationships seen in The Act might be different in real life versus how they were portrayed in the series.
For example, Vanity Fair noted that the two men shown in the third episode aren’t quite historically accurate. The episode showed a middle-aged man forming a relationship with Dee Dee by phone and wondering if she was overly committed to being Gypsy’s caregiver.
The episode also portrayed Scott, a young man who befriended Gypsy and viewed her sympathetically. His friendship spurred Gypsy to become more independent in the series. According to Vanity Fair, Scott is loosely based on a 35-year-old man that Gypsy met at a scifi convention in 2011. Gypsy tried to escape with him at the convention, whereas in the series she grows to know him over time before trying to run away with him.
In real life, Gypsy says that she was chained to a bed for two weeks after this happened. That’s when she created her online dating profile where she would later meet Nick.
Gypsy Rose’s family is considering taking legal action against the creators of The Act for a number of reasons, Springfield News-Leader reported. Gypsy didn’t actually participate in the show’s creation, which might account for some of the things it gets wrong. And Gypsy’s stepmom, Kristy Blanchard, told News-Leader that they were upset about some actions taken by Michelle Dean, writer and producer. According to Kristy, Michelle cut off all contact while The Act was in development. The family said they were promised some proceeds, which didn’t happen, among other things. The family is working with a different screenwriter on their own TV drama. Their screenwriter, Franchesca Macelli, told News-Leader that she has the legal rights and is the only person with the official story from all sides, including from Godejohn.
The family wants to emphasize, however, that they have not yet decided if they are taking legal action. They are looking into their options.
Kristy Blanchard and Macelli told News-Leader that adaptations including Hulu’s are not entirely accurate, and they’re going to release a statement soon outlining their views about the Hulu show.
“The liberties that are being taken aren’t the right liberties,” Macelli said.