Everything, Everything Is Shockingly Similar To This True Story

Courtesty of Warner Bros. Pictures
The heroine of the film Everything, Everything, Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) is 17-years-old, but she’s never left her house. And you'd probably stay put too, if you knew that any step beyond the boundaries of your hyper-sanitized home might kill you. Diagnosed with a rare disease, severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, Maddy is extremely susceptible to the world’s viruses, bacteria, and airborne pathogens.
Or so her mother tells her.
In this film based on the YA novel of the same title, it turns out Maddy's mother, Paula (Anika Noni Rose), may be keeping her in the house for a whole different reason than her daughter always thought. When Maddy falls for the boy next door, she finally has a reason to risk venturing into the outside world. But will it kill her?
Amazingly, Maddy's situation isn’t entirely fictional. In fact, Everything, Everything bears a striking resemblance to this infamous story about a person suffering from illness — but the infirmity is not SCID. Read ahead, and get ready for your jaw to drop.
Everything, Everything premieres on May 19, 2017.
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Warning: This is an Everything, Everything spoiler alert.

After Madeline and Olly, the boy next door, break free from her house, Maddy's worst fears are confirmed. She ends up in the hospital, and the doctor confirms that her immune system is, in fact, weakened. But it's not a result of her having SCID. Rather, her immune system is weakened simply because she’s never left the house and hasn’t built up a natural immunity to the world.

Eventually, Maddy's mother reveals that Maddy was always healthy, but Paula had sequestered her anyway. Years prior, when Maddy was a baby, Maddy's father and brother died in an accident. Following that, a traumatized Paula decided to keep her daughter safe forever — by never letting her leave the house. The SCID diagnosis was just a front.

Think of Paula as a captor with a heart of gold. And this is where our story begins.
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Courtesty of Warner Bros. Pictures
So, could something like Everything, Everything really happen?

Kind of. Paula’s an example of someone who suffers from a behavioral condition called Munchausen syndrome by proxy. According to WebMD, “Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability.”
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Courtesy of HBO
Everything, Everything has a much more chilling real-life counterpart.

In August 2016, BuzzFeed told the story of Gypsy Rose Blancharde and her mother, Dee Dee.

In the eyes of their Missouri neighbors, Dee Dee was a devoted mother caring for her sickly child. Gypsy was wheelchair-bound, on a strict medication regimen, and frequently in and out of hospitals. Supposedly, Gypsy suffered from muscular dystrophy, poor eyesight, poor hearing, and, when she was a child, leukemia.

When the pair were were in public, Dee Dee was physically affectionate; the two would hug and hold hands. According to the article, Gypsy once said of her relationship with Dee Dee, “We are a pair of shoes. Never good without the other.”
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Courtesy of HBO
But things weren’t as they seemed.

Gypsy realized there was something wrong when she was 19, after she tried to run away with a man she met at a science-fiction convention. After Dee Dee brought Gypsy home, Gypsy wondered why she was never allowed to have friends.

“The doctors thought that she was so devoted and caring,” Gypsy told the BuzzFeed reporter. “I think she would have been the perfect mom for someone that actually was sick. But I’m not sick. There’s that big, big difference.”

Yep, you heard right. Gypsy wasn’t sick. Gypsy was sleeping with an oxygen tank, and taking medicine that made her teeth fall out, and hobbling along with fake illnesses just because of Dee Dee’s insistence.
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Courtesy of HBO
What happened next?

In June 2015, Dee Dee was found in her bed, stabbed to death. And the wheelchair-bound Gypsy was nowhere to be found.

Gypsy, 23, was eventually found with her boyfriend, a man named Nicholas Godejohn. When the police arrived to Godejohn's Wisconsin house, Gypsy exited the house without a wheelchair or an oxygen tank.

In July 2016, Gypsy pleaded guilty to her mother’s murder. She is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a prison in Missouri. As the article reads, “She wants people to know, she said, that this wasn’t a situation where a girl killed her mom to be with her boyfriend. This was a situation, she said, of a girl trying to escape abuse.”
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Two movies, compared.

Years after the initial BuzzFeed story, HBO’s new film Mommy Dead and Dearest takes a documentary approach to tell the story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose.

So, after watching Everything, Everything this weekend, follow up with its true-crime counterpart on HBO.

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