The three C’s of current TV documentary programming are celebrity, crime and cults, and the new Lifetime documentaries. Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s prison confession Examines the first two with ruthless, precise efficiency. The subject, a young woman who arranged for the murder of her deranged, abusive mother in 2015, has become a media sensation, the subject of a previous dramatic miniseries (Hulu’s Act, since 2019) and now a TikTok sensation is about to release her memoir. The public’s appetite for such content should not be underestimated, including another popular ingredient, the demonic family member (see also the recent pairing of the Natalia Grace documentary and HBO’s relatively tasty ID). nice photo, lovely life,
People seem to find themselves in love with a certain Gypsy, a young woman from Louisiana who has a high-pitched voice and a seemingly innocent personality. Sitting for the filmmakers in her prison khakis on the eve of her parole hearing, as we are told for an eternity over the course of five episodes, she genuinely hopes everything will go well, much to her late mother’s chagrin. The story revolves around Dee Dee Blanchard, a suffocating woman who allegedly kept Gypsy handcuffed to a bed for two weeks and falsely changed her daughter’s legal age to officially make Gypsy and Everyone else thinks she was four years younger (more shades of Natalia Grace, whose adoptive parents adjusted her legal birth date up instead of down).
But wait, there’s more. It appears that Dee Dee Blanchard has a psychological disorder called Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a parent or other caregiver attracts the attention of medical professionals by causing or fabricating signs or symptoms of an illness in the child. As Gypsy grew up, her mother apparently fabricated stories of leukemia, muscular dystrophy, and seizure disorder, among other illnesses. Dee Dee committed financial scams involving Habitat for Humanity, Make-A-Wish, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Gypsy was his meal ticket. But she was much more than that. She was an instrument of ultimate control – a subservient for life, often confined to a wheelchair under false pretenses, wearing princess costumes and tiaras and essentially transformed into a little girl. Gypsy also claims that she was sexually assaulted by her grandfather, whose soft denials on camera did her no favors.
Captured in countless old photographs – too many photos and reenactments required to fill six episodes – Gypsy flashes a toothy smile that suggests joy as well as nervous fear. Speaking on camera from prison (she also participated in a series of telephone jailhouse interviews), she looks like a completely different person, one who has eaten a little – she was often hungry growing up – and is in her own skin. It was quite comfortable. She notes the main irony of the series: going to prison gave her a degree of freedom previously unknown to her. Without softening the fact that murder is murder and is never a good thing, even when you convince your online lover Nicholas Godejohn to do it – you will not kill And so on – the filmmakers make it very easy to see why Gypsy has captured the public’s imagination. While she was in prison she also married a guy who did not appear to be a psychopath; The series treats this development with sympathy and good humor.
It is remarkable and disturbing how easily Gypsy has slipped through the cracks, especially in the medical profession. When asked what he would say to her now, her former pediatrician says, “I would say I’m sorry I failed you.” The series makes clear that Dee Dee Blanchard was a master manipulator of people and systems. All of this makes it easy to root for Gypsy.
But the viewing also contains a strong current of schadenfreude and emotional masochism Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s prison confession, especially based on like-minded docs and series. We may be shocked and shaken by each shocking revelation, and relieved that at least our families were not He Bad. It’s hard to blame him for capitalizing on his story; After all, it’s his story. We are just the audience who keeps eating it up. This part can build public acceptance. We love trauma when it’s not ours, and when it’s delivered from the safe distance of our screens.