Dee Blanchard: Gyspy’s hero, or her abuser?


The Act was recently released on Hulu and goes into the deep story of how Gypsy Rose Blanchard killed her mother after years of abuse. Gypsy is a girl who grew up in a wheelchair because of her “muscular dystrophy”. She is raised by her mother, who was divorced from her father when Gypsy was very young. To the viewer who know the outside story, Deedee is always evil. She steals, and she subjects her kid to operations she doesn’t need. Deedee is using her child to make money and abusing her child, but to Gypsy Rose her mother is initially her hero.

The show begins with the viewers being introduced to Gypsy Rose, a child who is told by her mother that she is suffering from a laundry list of illnesses including leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, along with several other chronic conditions. Gypsy Rose is presented as an ill child who has the “mental capacity of a 7-year-old due to brain damage” she had suffered as a result of her premature birth. Gypsy would have no reason not to believe her mother about any of these illnesses. To Gypsy her mother Dee is a very caring mother who looks over her and makes sure she is always taking her medications and staying healthy. Gypsy also believes she has a sugar allergy and her mother is very careful in making sure that Gypsy eats no sugar and if she does, is quick to give her her EpiPen. Many neighbors and the community at this time also sees Dee as a wonderful mother and even send her money to be able to take care of her daughter and pay her bills.

As the show continues, Gypsy starts to see how her mother may not be the sweet, innocent women she had once believed she was. The first clue to Gypsy that her mother, may not have her best interest in mind for her happens when Gypsy is sent to the hospital for eating sugar and she overhears the doctor tell her mother that  she is not actually allergic to sugar. This is shocking to Gypsy, because why would her mother who has done nothing but care for her her whole life lie like this to her. She later find out this is true when Gypsy leaves bed one night without her wheelchair, which her mother convinced her she needed, and goes to the kitchen to eat sugar. She takes whipped cream out of the fridge and begins eating it, prepared to give herself an EpiPen injection. After eating it, she realizes there is no reaction and she is actually not at all allergic to sugar.  

Gypsy later realizes that her mother has also been lying to her about her age. Gypsy thought she was born in 1995, but then at an event when her mother is asked Gypsy’s birth year she says 1993. Gypsy questions her on this and and her mother claims that her brain is messed up since after the hurricane and that sometimes she gets confused when speaking. Gypsy finally finds out her real age when one night she goes into her mother’s purse and finds a card with her name on it saying that she was born in 1991.

Although the show is only four episodes in, Gypsy is beginning to see a shift in Dee as a character. She is slowly but surely seeing the signs that her mother may not actually be her hero and is actually exhibiting suspect behavior. It’s increasingly clear to the audience that she is not trying to help her daughter, but instead she is hurting her. As the show continues, it is becoming clear to Gypsy that her mother is not as sweet and caring as initially believed. In fact, Dee has begun to lose Gypsy’s trust which truly shows as Gypsy begins disobeying her mother and going behind her back in order to seek help. Gypsy is seeing that her life with Dee is not what she believed and that Dee is an abuser seeking money and attention rather than a hero. In desperation and as a means of escape, Gypsy turns to her boyfriend for help and the two ultimately decide that killing Dee is the only option. Though we have yet to see the actual killing on screen, the facet that Gypsy is planning a killing shows a total change in character. She is no longer the victim and decides that she is going to do something about the abuse she has suffered. Due to Gypsy’s decision to kill her mother, viewers and the court system are forced to also see her as a villain because killing is morally wrong, even as a means of escape. However, there is still a certain amount of sympathy for her because she was going to continue to live an abused life if she didn’t kill her mother. Most importantly though and as a relief to most viewers, Gypsy now understands her mother is not a hero but a villian.



One thought on “Dee Blanchard: Gyspy’s hero, or her abuser?

  1. Meaghan Hudson-I liked reading this piece on The Act because I am also watching the show right now as well. I thought that your writing was very good and accurately portrays the show of how it is and how Gypsy’s mother might not be seen as abusive but actually is. From what I have seen throughout the show it shows how Gypsy’s mother is very inherently abusive and also very controlling with Gypsy but does it so in a manner that people would not think was abusive because she seems so caring towards her. However, the fact that she lies about her age and how her illness is definitely something that would be considered abusive because that is not fair to Gypsy. So I really liked reading your writing on your take on the show as well.


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