All the best television on the Gypsy Rose Blanchard case to watch now
The story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard is so shocking and outrageous, it has become one of those true crime tales that can’t be told enough. Viewers who are enthralled with the horrifying and tragic life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, now serving 10 years in prison, have plenty of versions of the story to choose from.
From the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest to the Lifetime movie “inspired” by the Blanchard case, Love You to Death, audiences can select their adaptation of choice. We’re breaking down all of the best television based on Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard.
But first, some background
If you’ve somehow missed the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, now is your chance to have your mind blown with the twisty tale.
Dee Dee Blanchard was a single mom whose daughter, Gypsy Rose, was born in 1991. Almost immediately, Dee Dee began taking her daughter to doctor after doctor. As a baby, Dee Dee claimed Gypsy Rose had sleep apnea. At the age of 8, Dee Dee told friends and neighbors that the girl had muscular dystrophy and leukemia.
According to Dee Dee, Gypsy Rose needed a wheelchair and a feeding tube. She had seizures, and asthma, she was developmentally delayed and had surgeries on her eyes and salivary glands. Gypsy Rose’s teeth began rotting from her medications and had to be pulled out.
None of it was true. Dee Dee suffered from the mental illness Munchausen syndrome by proxy, causing her to sabotage her daughter’s health and concoct stories around Gypsy Rose’s illnesses in order to receive sympathy for her plight taking care of a sick child.
This story alone would be enough to enthrall the public, and Dee Dee’s manipulation of her daughter, the medical system, Gypsy Rose’s father, as well as family, friends, and charities all makes for a monstrous tale by itself.
However, the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard only begins there. As Gypsy Rose grew into an adult, Dee Dee did everything she could to keep her “sickly young daughter”, to the point where Gypsy herself didn’t know her own age. In 2015, Gypsy Rose convinced her online boyfriend to save her by murdering her mother. Nicholas Godejohn came to their house and stabbed Dee Dee while Gypsy Rose waited, ears covered, in the bathroom.
Mommy Dead and Dearest
Erin Lee Carr’s Mommy Dead and Dearest is the HBO documentary on the Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard story. Known for other documentaries, including I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter and At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal, Carr has made a career on exposing all the gritty details of controversial cases, and Mommy Dead and Dearest doesn’t shy away from any of the particulars of the Gypsy Rose case.
Not only covering the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard and its aftermath the documentary also explores Gypsy Rose’s life and the years of abuse her mother inflicted upon her. Mommy Dead and Dearest also focuses on Nicholas Godejohn and his relationship with Gypsy Rose, as well as his trial for Dee Dee Blanchard’s death.
Erin Lee Carr’s documentary was produced with the blessing of the Blanchard family, so it includes home videos, text messages, medical records, and interviews with Gypsy Rose as well as family and friends of the Blanchards.
For those looking for a fact-based breakdown Gypsy Rose Blanchard case, with extensive information coming from Gypsy herself, Mommy Dead and Dearest is a comprehensive look at her life.
Hulu’s The Act is an 8 part miniseries starring Joey King as Gypsy Rose and Patricia Arquette as Dee Dee Blanchard based on the Buzzfeed article by Michelle Dean, “Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered”.
The Act bridges the gap between the salacious version of the story and Erin Lee Carr’s documentary. With eight hours of story to tell, The Act delves deep into the Blanchard story. Highlighting details like Dee Dee Blanchard’s insistence that they were in Hurricane Katrina, so their medical records were lost, and Gypsy Rose’s slow realization of her mother’s lies.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard threatened to take legal action against The Act and Michelle Dean after its release, but that threat never came of anything, though audiences should know that this version of events is not confirmed by the Blanchard family.
The Act was highly regarded by critics and was nominated for a number of awards, with Patricia Arquette winning both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Dee Dee Blanchard.
Love You to Death
Lifetime had no interest in any threats from the Blanchard family, so Love You to Death is inspired by the Gypsy Rose Blanchard story but does not include the actual names of the Blanchards. Expect all sorts of creative license in this one.
Marcia Gay Harden plays Camile Stoller, the character based on Dee Dee Blanchard, and Emily Skeggs plays Esme, based on Gypsy Rose. While it lacks the depth of The Act and the accuracy of Mommy Dead and Dearest, The Act does have its moments.
Emily Skaggs stands out in her role as Esme, and the movie offers a Gone Girl-like switch midway, where we switch the focus from Camile’s care of her sickly daughter in the first half to Emse’s abuse in the second half.
Details from the actual story get overlooked in Lifetime’s two-hour synopsis, for instance, Dee Dee’s financial benefits from Gypsy Rose’s sickness aren’t touched upon, but the rest of the sordid details are intact, with some played up quite a bit, like Camile binding Esme to her wheelchair using duct tape. Love you to Death is the exact version of the Blanchard story you would expect from Lifetime.
So much other coverage
While the three extended versions of the Blanchard story mentioned above are definitely the most widely known, the story has made the rounds on the true-crime magazine circuit as well. Featured on ABC’s 20/20, the ID channel’s James Patterson’s Murder is Forever, CBS’s Dr. Phil, and ABC’s Good Morning America. Additionally, the ID channel aired a two hour documentary of their own titled Gypsy’s Revenge.