‘The Act:’ Hulu’s new stranger-than-fiction true crime drama

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Everyone’s sympathy kicks in when it comes to witnessing sick children. The glaring reality of all the things a sick child is missing out on in life is usually cause for pitying smiles and generous monetary donations. No one would ever suspect that the premise could all be a scheme orchestrated by the parent of a perfectly healthy child. Unfortunately, this was the case for the mother of the real-life girl, Gypsy Rose. Now, with the Hulu original series, “The Act,” Gypsy and her mother’s story is being brought to life for the screen.

Episode three is now out as of March 27, and so far the story of this dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship makes heart-wrenching, heart wrenching cinema. All of the gritty details are layered from the abuse to fraud to murder.

From the first episode, we are shown flashbacks that imply that the care Dee Dee provided for her seemingly sickly daughter was not quite as selfless as it seemed. Despite this, “The Act” enjoys making its audience squirm as it reveals the intricacies of the deception and lies painstakingly slowly. Each twist in the story is more and more shocking as the unbelievable tale unfolds.

As each new mistruth is revealed, Gypsy’s frustration with her mother and feelings of being trapped increase. “The Act” puts just as much emphasis on the events leading up to the murder as it does the murder itself. In short, “The Act” makes the “why” just as prevalent as the “what.”

The story itself captures our interest and holds it so that we simply cannot tear ourselves away, but why? It has a lot to say about the complexities of human nature, why we do what we do and how love can become entangled and confused with attachment and dependency. “The Act” explores the ranges of human emotions and does and exceptional job exemplifying their unique complications and contradictions.

The two leads, Patricia Arquette and Joey King are exceptionally believable in their roles. When watching “The Act,” it feels as if you are watching something real unfold, and, in a way, you are. The fact that the tragic story was based on true events remains prevalent in the viewers minds in a way that won’t allow you to forget what you are seeing is unfortunately all too real.

“The Act,” while undeniably disturbing, sheds light on the unique kinds of abuse that can be perpetrated by parents and serves as a reminder that some types of abuse can be extremely difficult to detect. What we can take away from “The Act” is a simple message: Abuse comes in many forms and the complex emotions of the victim can make it incredibly hard for them to break away in some cases. Because of this, it is important to take action and take responsibility if you feel something isn’t right. The face someone shows the world could simply be an act.
photo courtesy Hulu