In “The Act,” Hulu's new anthology series, viewers are exposed to one of the most horrifying fictional mothers in history — except she's not so fictional, after all. The first season of "The Act" is based on the events leading up to the murder of Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard, a woman who pretended her daughter Gypsy had various medical conditions — everything from leukemia to muscular dystrophy — up until the day Gypsy and her online boyfriend murdered her in an alleged bid to gain freedom.
Of course, it's easy to wonder how in the world family, friends, and medical professionals all missed the obvious truth: Gypsy wasn't truly sick or physically or mentally disabled. So who was Gypsy's father, and how did he overlook this alleged abuse?
In the show, Dee Dee is depicted as lying to Gypsy’s father, who lives out of state, about her condition. On Gypsy’s birthday, the mother and daughter celebrate. Dee Dee gives Gypsy a sugar-free cake (she pretends Gypsy is allergic to sugar) and two guinea pigs. She also repeatedly lies to Gypsy about her own age.
Not long after, her dad calls and asks to speak to Gypsy.
“She doesn’t know it’s her birthday,” Dee Dee tells him. “I don’t want to get her hopes up, give her anxiety about how many years she’s got left. All the doctors say it’s the best thing to do in her condition.”
The father becomes concerned.
"What’s her condition?” he asks. “Did something new happen? I thought you said she had been doing all right, lately. Ya know? Is there something I should know?”
“Dee Dee, I really wish you would tell me what’s going on,” he says before she hangs up on him.
As it turns out, in real life, Gypsy’s father, Rod Blanchard, felt just as in the dark about his daughter's conditions. He lived far away, hadn’t seen his child in years, and just assumed that Dee Dee was telling the truth about Gypsy's medical needs.
"Dee Dee always told me (Gypsy's) mental capacity was behind four or five years, which was understandable,” he told local outlet Springfield News-Leader in 2017. “She told me every time she had a seizure, it would set her back."
And the birthday call in the show happened. He really did try to call his daughter on her real 18th birthday.
"It was very weird that she wouldn't let me celebrate her 18th birthday or let her know she was 18,” he said. “That was part of the whole scam, I guess.”
Gypsy didn’t even know her own age until after she was arrested for her role in killing her mom.
Rod felt isolated from Gypsy, and felt like her mother controlled and limited the father-daughter relationship, according to Newsweek. However, he said he put up with it so that he could have at least some sort of relationship with his child. Rod admitted he didn’t suspect there was abuse and that he had no inkling that the medical conditions were made up.
He appears to support his daughter now though, despite her part in her mother's killing. In fact, he appears to believe that Dee Dee got what she deserved.
“If you think you can manipulate someone all their lives and for them not to bite back at one point when they had enough, then you’re completely mistaken,” the father told Fox News. “I think she asked for what she got.”
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