The silver screen is bursting with unnerving tales of dysfunctional dynamics between mothers and daughters.
But the tale of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard is all the more frightening for one reason.
It's all true.
The Act on Lightbox is your new true crime obsession. A haunting tale of a controlling mother who for years secretly fed her daughter a cocktail of medications, forced her to use a wheelchair, and convinced her that she suffered from cancer, multiple sclerosis and a host of other serious diseases… and the daughter who eventually fought back.
From the outside, Dee Dee and her daughter Gypsy appeared to be a loving and inseparable duo. To neighbours and friends, Gypsy was a sweet wheelchair-bound girl, her head bald from radiation therapy, and a high-pitched girlish voice that betrayed the severe learning disabilities she was born with. Dee Dee, her dedicated mother, was constantly by her side, protecting and caring for her sick daughter.
But those on the outside never knew the extent of the lie, and the depths of their toxic and abusive relationship. No one could have guessed that since she was a child, Gypsy's head had been shaved and her food poisoned with medication. Or that the feeding tube that ran directly into her gut was unnecessary, or the wheelchair in which she spent her life was nothing but a prop.
The leukemia, the wasted muscles, the seizures, the learning disabilities - it was all a lie.
Gypsy, manipulated by her mother, believed that she was as ill as Dee Dee claimed. The deception went so deep, even the medical staff who attended to Gypsy over the years rarely suspected that things were not as they seemed.
Munchausen's syndrome by proxy; [mass noun]; also see: Munchausen syndrome
A mental disorder in which a person seeks attention by inducing or feigning illness in another person, typically a child.
But despite the wheelchair she used, Gypsy Rose knew that she could walk. Despite the feeding tube, she knew that she could eat. She knew that she was older than her mother told people - a legal adult, not a mentally impaired teen. And she knew that she wanted more - freedom, independence, romantic love, and a life outside of her suffocating and damaging relationship with her mother.
So as she became a teen, Gypsy went online, looking for love. It was there, through a Christian dating website, that she met a man who would change the course of Gypsy and Dee Dee's lives forever.
The remarkable story of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee has now been made into an acclaimed true crime series. The story is multi-layered, complicated, and enthralling. Dee Dee and Gypsy's relationship has themes of love and complicity, as well as power, manipulation and abuse. And their twisted dynamic capitalises on some of our deepest fears - that those who are meant to protect us might actually do us harm.
Lured to the small screen to tell this incredible story is a line-up of leading female actors delivering powerful performances - Patricia Arquette, fresh from Golden Globe glory, plays the monstrous Dee Dee, up and comer Joey King (seen in Slender Man) is her manipulated daughter Gypsy, and indie darling Chloe Sevigny
stars as Gypsy's friend and neighbour Mel.
The Act is confronting, riveting, and heartbreaking.
Watch The Act now on Lightbox.