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The relatively recent re-approach to true crime television is seeing no signs of slowing down, and it's entirely possible that Hulu's upcoming anthology drama The Act will invigorate the subgenre's fandom even more. (Especially now that the non-real True Detective's finale has aired.) Just take a look at the first trailer below, which features recent Golden Globe winner Patricia Arquette as the domineering, duplicitous and enervating mother Dee Dee Blanchard of Joey King's Gypsy Rose. Check out the cringe-inducing trailer below.
The real-life family situation between Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose is truly the stuff of nightmares, so it makes sense that The Act was co-developed by journalist/critic Michelle Dean and the creator of Syfy's excellent horror anthology Channel Zero, Nick Antosca. The duo worked with their creative team to craft a TV show that may not outwardly look terrifying, but is still horrific to consider in just about every way.
For those who aren't so familiar with the tragic stories of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, let's go over some of the less spoiler-driven facts that the trailer hints at. Born somewhat prematurely in 1991 as a healthy baby, Gypsy Rose spent the next 24 years as the unfortunate subject of her mother's presumed mental disorder, Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Over the years, Dee Dee claimed that her daughter suffered from brain damage due to her premature birth, not to mention leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and a host of other ailments that Gypsy Rose was later medically proven to not be suffering from. As viewers can surmise, those false diagnoses are why actress Joey King looks so debilitated throughout the first trailer for The Act.
Similar to the ways things played out in real life, Patricia Arquette's Dee Dee Blanchard wasn't a mother solely driven by malice and the urge to make her daughter miserable. By most counts, the actual Dee Dee appeared to genuinely believe that Gypsy Rose was suffering from so many afflictions, and seemingly wasn't able to take an objective big picture look at the situation. Especially not when the story was taken as truth by the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House, among others.
As it's made abundantly clear in the trailer, nothing about this situation is comforting or easy to understand, and it's not hard to imagine that viewers are going to get severely stressed out as the season goes on and Gypsy Rose's under-developed independence starts to rear its head. Depending on how dark and nerve-wracking things get, The Act could be a perfect example of an anti-binge show.
Unlike documentary-style true crime hits like Netflix's game-changing Making a Murderer, The Act's first season centers on a case that has already been concluded and figured out, so there aren't necessarily any mysteries to solve. At least, perhaps, any mysteries beyond what can bring a person so far over the edge that he or she puts a child through such a tortured life. I guess we'll have to watch to see if Patricia Arquette's performance invites such curiosity.
Also starring Chloë Sevigny, AnnaSophia Robb and Calum Worthy, The Act Season 1 will debut on Hulu on Wednesday, March 20, at 12:01 a.m. PT.