‘The Act’: How the Show Differs From the True Story It’s Based On

The Act is a new dramatic television series on Hulu, which has been described as a “stranger than fiction” story. How strange can a story be? Anyone who has watched The Act can tell you pretty strange.

The Act is based on the true story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter, Gypsy Rose. When the story first begins in the television series, it appears that Dee Dee is simply an overprotective mother with a physically disabled and mentally ill child.

As the story begins to unfold, however, you soon realize that Dee Dee actually suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, which means she craves the attention and sympathy one gets from being a caretaker for someone who is incredibly ill. Of course, that also means it does not matter that there is nothing is truly wrong with Gypsy Rose

But how accurate is The Act? Most critics agree that the show is pretty accurate in how it portrays the real story, but there were definitely a few creative liberties taken with the story. This tends to be the case with most television series or films that are “based on a true story.” But in which ways does this story differ? Here are a few.

View this post on Instagram

All a mother wants to do is keep her daughter safe.

A post shared by The Act (@theactonhulu) on

Scott didn’t exist

The character Scott on the show is seen as Gypsy Rose’s 30-something-year-old boyfriend that she meets at a costume convention. He never existed — or rather, the man he is based off of was of little to no importance overall — whereas the story makes him look fairly significant. In real life, there is mention of a man that the real Gypsy Rose met at a comic book convention, but some flirting and a potential scheme of running away together is about the end of it in real life.

Gypsy Rose didn’t know her real age

The Act shows that Dee Dee tells people her daughter has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old child, but the truth was much more complicated (and disturbing) than just that. In addition to telling people that Gypsy Rose was mentally young, the girl herself didn’t know how old she really was. When Gypsy Rose actually turned 18, her mother convinced her that it was only her 14th birthday, which, it is assumed, was to keep her control over the young girl longer.

Dee Dee’s back story is disturbing

Another thing the television series doesn’t say — or, at least, hasn’t yet said — are the disturbing things Dee Dee has done. When she was significantly younger, Dee Dee was suspected of poisoning her stepmother with Roundup. The deranged woman was also suspected of starving her mother to death, and other members of the family were quoted as saying she “got what she deserved” when she was murdered herself.

View this post on Instagram

Age is just a number when you're mommy's baby.

A post shared by The Act (@theactonhulu) on

When did Dee Dee start diagnosing?

According to Gypsy Rose’s biological father and medical records, Dee Dee began diagnosing her daughter with different illnesses when she was just a baby. The first among these was sleep apnea, which medical records show was extensively tested for and proven negative. Those negative test results were not enough for Dee Dee, however, and the diagnosis quickly started spiraling out of control.

By the end of her life, Dee Dee Blanchard had convinced Gypsy, outsiders, and maybe even herself, that her daughter suffered from a wide range of illnesses. These included leukemia, epilepsy, heart murmur, asthma, muscular dystrophy, brain damage, and learning disabilities to name just a few. While the television series touches on this, it does not go as far in depth as the true story behind The Act would require.