Hulu's The Act is based on one of the most shocking true crime stories in recent memory. In June 2015, Dee Dee Blanchard was found stabbed to death, per the Springfield News-Leader. The outlet noted that her murder had been orchestrated in part by her own daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard. But as details of the case unraveled, experts began to believe that Dee Dee suffered from some sort of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Dee Dee had pretended to the world that Gypsy Rose was severely physically and mentally ill — perhaps for the attention, sympathy, or so that Gypsy would be more reliant on Dee Dee. Part of that ruse included lying about Gypsy Rose's real age.
According to Inside Edition, Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy Rose had the mental capacity of a seven-year-old because she'd been born prematurely. In The Act trailer, viewers can also see Dee Dee make up several lies about Gypsy Rose's current age. "Oh, she's 15, born in 1995," Dee Dee says in one scene. "I thought you said I was born in 1993?" Gypsy Rose asked in return. Another scene shows Gypsy finding her health insurance card which lists her real birthdate of July 1991.
The Act took inspiration from Dee Dee's real coverup of Gypsy's age. According to the Buzzfeed article upon which The Act is based, on Gypsy's 18th birthday her father called to say "hello." Dee Dee told him not to tell Gypsy how old she was, because supposedly Gypsy thought she was still 14. After Dee Dee's death, when the world found out how old Gypsy really was, many were shocked that not only was she actually 23, but she could walk and didn't seem to have any serious health issues — despite what her mother had claimed all her life.
According to TV Guide, the first two episodes of The Act cover the Blanchards' move to a new neighborhood and Gypsy's Child of the Year award. In real life, the Blanchards moved from Louisiana to Missouri in 2007 after Hurricane Katrina. Gypsy was also awarded the Oley Foundation's Child of the Year award for 2007. The Oley site said she was 12 years old at the time she received the award. In actuality, she was 16.
As of the The Act's premiere in March 2019, the real Gypsy Rose is 27. She told Dr. Phil in a 2017 interview that she didn't discover her mother's secrets until she was 19 and some paperwork didn't add up. She'd found her real birth certificate — the 1991 one — and asked her mom about it. Dee Dee said it was a typo. But Gypsy knew something was up when her Medicaid card matched the 1991 birthdate too. "Everything that she ever told me was a lie," Gypsy said to Dr. Phil.
This confusion about Gypsy's true age — for both Gypsy and others — is likely to play a large role on the series since it's a prominent part of the trailer and was a big deal in Gypsy's eventual understanding of the web of lies her mother had concocted. Viewers can watch the first two episodes The Act now on Hulu to see the web begin, and how Gypsy eventually found her way out of it by helping orchestrate her mother's death.