In the fourth episode of Hulu's The Act, Dee Dee Blanchard is diagnosed with diabetes. But the viewer is left wondering if this is also part of her elaborate scheme to keep her daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard close to home. Especially when Dee Dee says, "Mama needs you now. Every single day," and Gypsy looks mildly panicked at the thought that she'll never escape. But all reports indicate that Dee Dee Blanchard's own health problems may have been all too real, unlike all of her daughter's supposed illnesses.
Experts now believe that Dee Dee had munchausen syndrome by proxy, which led her to invent diseases for her daughter, perhaps in an attempt to gain sympathy or help from others while keeping Gypsy reliant on her mother's aid. As Refinery29 previously reported, at one time or another Dee Dee claimed that her daughter had leukemia, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, vision and hearing problems, and problems breathing. She also made Gypsy use a wheelchair at all times, even though Gypsy could walk.
To free herself, Gypsy eventually planned her mother's 2015 murder. Gypsy is now serving 10 years in prison for her role in the crime. But she told ABC News that prison feels less constricting than Dee Dee's home. "I feel like I'm freer in prison than living with my mom. I guess now I'm allowed to just live like a normal woman."
But Dee Dee's own medical issues may not have been fabricated like her daughter's were. The Act will continue to treat her diabetes diagnosis as real — if not also a way to keep Gypsy feeling guilty and indebted to her mother. USA Today reported that actor Patricia Arquette, who plays Dee Dee, wears swollen leg prosthetics in later episodes as the effects of diabetes take their toll on her character.
Dee Dee's diabetes diagnosis also seems real outside the world of The Act, according to the Springfield News-Leader. The paper reported that an initial warrant in connection to the case stated that Dee Dee had diabetes as well as OCD. That warrant also contained the false information claiming that Gypsy Rose had MS, leukemia, couldn't walk, and needed oxygen at night. If that information was given to authorities by people who knew the Blanchards, it makes sense that Gypsy's fabricated illnesses would be included — Dee Dee had everyone fooled that well. Dee Dee might also have told friends and neighbors about her own diabetes diagnosis, which is perhaps why it made it into the warrant information.
So, as convenient as it is that, in the timeline of the fictionalized Hulu series, Dee Dee now needs Gypsy to give her insulin every day, it may well have been a real scenario. How ironic is it that Dee Dee claimed Gypsy was the one with a sugar allergy, when all along it was likely Dee Dee who needed to be careful about her sugar intake?