The songs on The Act soundtrack play an important role in setting the tone of this true-crime tragedy that results in Gypsy going to jail for the murder of her mother, who is believed to have suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental health disorder in which someone makes up an illness or injury for the person in their care. This led Dee Dee (Patricia Arquette) to insist her daughter Gypsy (Joey King) was sick with everything from leukemia to epilepsy to muscular dystrophy, which kept her wheelchair-bound despite her being just fine. The Act uses its music carefully, strategically, and sparingly over the course of its eight episodes, often setting a sinister tone. Gypsy’s life is consumed by fairytales, but the music of this series relates to the audience just how trapped this princess was in her castle.
There are some episodes where there’s barely any music beyond The Act's score from Jeff Russo, who’s worked on other prestige projects like HBO’s The Night Of and FX’s Fargo and Legion. Other episodes are filled with symbolic song choices in which the title gives the mood away or offers a tongue and cheek nod to the horror going on behind the closed doors of that pink house. Let’s just say it’s now even harder to hear the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” without cringing.
There are more than a few songs on this show that might sound familiar and there are several nods to Velvet Underground and numerous connections to Bonnie and Clyde in this playlist filled with French singers, alt-country ballads, and doo-wop.
The truth of Gypsy’s life certainly isn’t pretty, but the sounds of The Act sure are.