When he first heard the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, Nick Antosca thought to himself, “How could this have happened? How could a mother do that to her child? I wanted to know more.” The TV veteran, whose credits as a writer and producer include “Hannibal” and “Channel Zero,” teamed up with Michelle Dean, who covered the true events for Buzzfeed, and together they translated it into a new Hulu limited series, “The Act.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Antosca above.
The events, which were also detailed in the HBO documentary “Mommy Dead and Dearest,” are truly stranger than fiction. Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a parent or caregiver induces or fabricates illness in another person to gain sympathy from others. She convinced her daughter, Gypsy Rose (Joey King), that she suffered from a variety of diseases and disabilities, earning support from several charities and a place in the national spotlight. But when Gypsy discovered the truth she conspired with her online boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn (Calum Worthy), to kill Dee Dee. She is currently behind bars for the murder.
While there were a lot of disturbing details to focus on, Antosca was most fascinated by the mother-daughter relationship at the story’s core. “In a way, I think that’s the most relatable part of the story,” he explains. “We all break away from our parents. We all start to question what our parents tell us … and to me, that was the most compelling thing about this story.” Of course, not all of us go through this rite of passage “to such an extreme degree,” but it’s relatable nonetheless.
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