For a true crime-addicted society that has transformed the mega-popular likes of The Jinx, Serial, Making a Murderer, the various O.J Simpson mini-series and Dirty John into record-breaking, zeitgeist-capturing, instantly iconic and endlessly spoofed and ripped off pop culture events Hulu’s new smash mini-series The Act is manna from heaven.
It has all the elements of an epic smash: murder, sex, a beyond twisted mother-daughter dynamic, Munchausen by Proxy, gaslighting on a horrific, almost impossible to believe scale, child abuse, murderous rage and roles so juicy they all but guarantee Emmys and Golden Globes for the heavyweight thespians that snagged them. At the risk of being very safe, I’m going to play Nostradamus and predict all manner of awards for the lovely and talented Patricia Arquette. But, what makes the series so arrest for families is that the series floats the idea that in this particular tragedy, there are no clear-cut heroes and villains.
Arquette delivers a performance of great quality and quantity in the impossibly juicy role of the real Dee Dee Blanchard, a honey-dripping nightmare of maternal evil who kept daughter Gypsy Rose Lee in a state of eternal childhood and dependence by convincing her and doctors that Gypsy Rose had all manner of terrible, debilitating illnesses requiring intense, invasive care like being fed through a stomach tube and being confined to a wheelchair.
Dee Dee worked overtime to convince Gypsy and the world that her daughter had the mind of a small child, could not walk and had every illness known to man but she was actually perfectly capable of walking and possessed a sharp, hungry, yearning mind and libido that would eventually cause all manner of problems for Gypsy and her mother alike.
Arquette brings a Mommy Dearest bigness and theatricality to the role of a woman whose “Bless your heart!” veneer of folksy, Southern selflessness masks a core of calculating evil. In The Act, Dee Dee is the professional mother of a professionally sick child who seems to be suffering from all of the ailments. ALL of them.
Like Julianne Moore’s gorgeous sufferer in Safe, being sick is not a temporary or even permanent state so much as it is Dee Dee’s entire identity. She suffers fake illnesses, then her mother transforms the public’s pity for her unfortunate, plucky daughter into cold-hard cash, awards, and even the occasional house; Habitats for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House and Make-A-Wish all fell for Mama Dee Dee’s demented grift.
Like Sarah and Jennifer Hart, the white subjects of the podcast Broken Harts, who adopted six black children…
Latest posts by Mayra Rodriguez (see all)
- The Legendary Anti-Vaccine 13th Episode of ‘The Brady Bunch’ Is Real, Hilarious - April 29, 2019
- Why zero screen time for babies makes sense | Parenting With Pete - April 29, 2019
- Cepeda: Why boys need to get meaningful sex education — finally - April 29, 2019