The True Horror of Hulu’s “The Act”


Promotional Image for The Act on Hulu.

The digital age is fantastic. Gone are the days of memorizing TV schedules, recording your favorites should something come up, and spending weeks of your time devoted to two or three shows. Now, television consumption comes in binge-watching. Online streaming services have capitalized on this kind of viewing, and have started creating their own content. Such is the case with “The Act.”

“The Act” is a Hulu Original miniseries that, unlike most streamable tv shows, premieres an episode weekly. This makes sense for Hulu; one of the main features of the platform is the constant edition of brand new tv episodes a day after they air. “The Act” doesn’t air on any prime-time cable network, but follows suit with a regular program time, Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m.

This method is paying off. Every week, directly after an episode, a dozen articles from the world’s top news sources pop up analyzing the characters, plot, and its adaptational changes regarding the real story. You heard right; The Act is based on a real life event.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, “The Act” dramatizes the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard by her daughter Gypsy Rose and Gypsy’s boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn. The motive? Blanchard had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder that caused her to force her daughter to believe she was chronically ill and handicapped.

This show is dark. I wouldn’t personally recommend it to anyone younger than 16, although if you believe you can handle it, be my guest. The show is six episodes in, each covering a significant traumatic event in Gypsy Rose’s life. Although I know little to nothing about cinematography, I know enough to understand that “The Act” delivers. The shots used are pleasing to the eye but carry a sinister weight.

The actors are particularly intriguing. Joey King is a compelling, sympathetic Gypsy Rose, and as of the last episode, has one of the best breakdowns I’ve seen in a TV Show. Patricia Arquette, however, truly shines as Dee Dee Blanchard. Her deplorable character is explored in depth through the show’s run, and it’s completely believable how she could have gotten away with faking Gypsy’s illness for so long.

Which brings me back to the true crime behind the series. The real Gypsy Rose Blanchard has recently spoken out from prison, where she is currently serving a ten-year sentence. Blanchard is frustrated with the show’s portrayal of her. Although she has no way to watch the show, she expressed her dismay that no one from the production reached out to her in order to use her likeness or story. “There will be legal action taken against the show’s creators,” Gypsy expressed in an email to Bustle Magazine.

All in all, “The Act” is a horrifying look into an odd case of child abuse and the psychology that causes it. For any fans of true-crime shows such as “48 Hours” or “Making a Murderer,” “The Act” might just be the type of slow burn thriller you’ve been waiting for. This dive into one of recent history’s strangest crimes gets a 7.8/10 from me.