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Tragedy turned entertainment

Ethical costs of turning one’s life into a show

Imagine suffering abuse at the hand of your own family and committing a crime to get out of that abusive situation and being arrested. As if that was not enough, you then had a show made about your traumatic experience. 


“The Act,” a show based on the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, was never approved by her, according to an interview with Bustle. 


“I feel it is very unfair and unprofessional that producers and co-producer Michelle Dean has used my actual name and story without my consent, and the life rights to do so,” Blanchard said in an email to Bustle. 


Initially after watching “The Act,” I thought Joey King did a great job portraying her. King’s voice and mannerisms seemed spot on, based on what I had previously seen of Blanchard. However, we now know the show came at a cost to Blanchard. 


Blanchard was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The National Library of Medicine defines this syndrome as, “a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.” 


Blanchard was ultimately arrested in 2015 for plotting her mom’s murder in order to escape the abuse, according to ABC News.  


In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Blanchard said she felt as though the public still views her as that little girl in a wheelchair. She explained that she has grown up since her arrest, became a woman and gotten married. In her statement, she blamed “The Act” for the public’s misconceptions. 


This is why I think it’s amazing that Blanchard is deciding to set the record straight by making her own documentary. In the same interview, she said she believes her new documentary is important to raise awareness for mental health. She stated that she wouldn’t have committed the crime if she had someone to share her story and abuse with at the time.  


“If somebody is out here watching this, they can see me and know that they are not alone,” she said. “Because when I was living with my mother, I felt very alone.” 

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