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Before even hearing of Hulu’s The Act, I happened to randomly click on a documentary, “Gypsy’s Truth and Lies,”  about Gypsy Rose Blanchard a couple of months ago. The fifty minute documentary explains how Gypsy Rose, a now 27 year-old woman, was made to believe by her mother that she suffered from various illnesses that would have inhibited her quality of life, such as muscular dystrophy and cancer her entire life. Dee Dee Blanchard, Gypsy’s mother, was thought to have Munchausen syndrome by proxy,  causing individuals to make up illnesses for those under their care, usually for attention or money. Gypsy eventually caught on to her mother’s act and she and her boyfriend, Nick Godejohn, who she met online without Dee Dee’s knowledge, conspired to kill Dee Dee. On June 14, 2015, Dee Dee Blanchard was murdered in her home and Gypsy and Nick Godejohn were arrested for the crime a few days later. For more detail, check out Buzzfeed’s article Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom Murdered by Michelle Dean.

The real-life versions of Nick, Gypsy, and DeeDee

 

While I was thoroughly intrigued by ABC’s documentary about Gypsy Rose Blanchard, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from an eight-part series. I felt that the 50-minute documentary I viewed told me much of what I needed to know about the case, and wondered how Hulu would expand the story.

Chloë Sevigny, Joey King, Patricia Arquette, and AnnaSophia Robb for “The Act”

The cast of The Act includes many well known actors such as Patricia Arquette, AnnaSophia Robb (star of childhood favorites Bridge to Terabithia, Soul Surfer, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,) Chloë Sevigny (known for her work with controversial projects such as 1995’s Kids) and stars Joey King (a.k.a. The Kissing Booth’s Elle!) I didn’t know what to expect from King, but I was thoroughly impressed by her versatile acting skills and vulnerability throughout the series.  
 

While The Act is based off of a true story, certain details of the tale had to be changed for dramatic effect. Nick Godejohn, portrayed by none other than Callum Worthy (yes, that’s Dez from Austin and Ally!) was more manipulative and calculating than he was portrayed on The Act. Godejohn likely played a larger role in the murder than what is shown in the show. Similarly, Aleah Woodmansee, the inspiration for “The Act”’s Lacey, told In Touch that she is not happy with the way the show portrayed her. Lacey’s Southern accent, her DIY tattoo, and her attempt to smoke with Gypsy, among other things, were fictionalized. In fact, Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s family might be suing Hulu for taking unfair liberties with Gypsy’s story and cutting off communication with the Blanchard family. Gypsy Rose Blanchard currently serves a ten-year sentence in prison and Godejohn serves a life sentence without parole.

 

Gypsy Rose Blanchard Now

 

I certainly found the eight episodes of “The Act” entertaining, and the unusual story kept me hooked. The cinematography and soundtrack were beautiful. Spoiler! The song, Fiona Apple’s cover of Why Try to Change Me Now by Frank Sinatra’s at the end of the last episode immediately went on my “Spotify Feels” playlist. I also personally enjoyed ABC’s documentary more–it was far more accurate and still maintained the story and shock value “The Act” provides. Overall, I would rate “The Act” a 6/10. Watch the show, but make sure to check the facts of the actual case as well. If you’re wondering how to access Hulu, note that a subscription to the streaming service is included with the Spotify Premium student discount. So it’s 100% worth it!

 

Grace Pasco

Lafayette '22

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