Season 1 follows the bizarre true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard who, with help from her boyfriend Nick Godejohn, murdered her mother Dee Dee Blanchard after years of being manipulated into believing she suffered from muscular dystrophy, leukemia and a slew of other serious ailments. Across eight episodes, the dramatized account lays out just how Dee Dee deceived everyone from medical professionals to her own neighbors and used prescribed medication to make her perfectly healthy daughter ill. It stars The Kissing Booth's Joey King as Gypsy and Emmy winner Patricia Arquette, who wasn't aware of the real-life story until she read the script for the project.
"I'd always been fascinated by Munchausen by proxy but I hadn't heard of this specific story until they sent it to me," she told TV Guide. "And I told my kids I was thinking about doing this and they were like, 'Don't do that!' because they'd seen the documentary."
The story may have been unfamiliar to Arquette, but it caught mainstream attention due in part to a 2016 BuzzFeed exposé which detailed the horrific circumstances surrounding the case. Among those who caught wind of the chilling piece was producer Nick Antosca who hadn't thought about adapting Gypsy's story for the screen until he was approached to do the Hulu anthology.
"I pursued the opportunity because I was still thinking about it. You read that story and you go, how could this possibly happen? But it did happen," he said.
The series isn't only interested in showing what happened with the Blanchards, but also getting to the heart of why. According to Antosca, the series examines what life was like for Gypsy before killing her mother and how it changed dramatically after she was sentenced to prison.
"What we wanted to explore is what she said in that article, which is that she feels more free in prison than she did in that house, and the question of what is she gonna do afterward? What is her life gonna be like? And can she become a person who escapes the shadow of her mother? Because it seemed like she still loves her," he added.
In real life, Gypsy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was given the minimum sentence of 10 years. She'll be eligible for parole in 2023, when she is 32 years old. Meanwhile, Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Act premiered Wednesday, Mar. 20 on Hulu with two episodes. New episodes of The Act drop Wednesdays.