Episode 1 of The Act, “La Maison du Bon Reve” is a well-constructed opening episode, giving us an insight into the Blanchard’s world.
Hulu Original Series The Act is a seasonal anthology series that details strange true crime stories. The first season follows Gypsy Blanchard, a young girl who appears to have a range of medical issues, trying to remove herself from her toxic relationship with her overprotective, abusive mother Dee Dee Blanchard. Her persistence for independence leads to darker secrets, and ultimately, murder. This review of Episode 1, “La Maison du Bon Reve”, contains spoilers.
Based on Hulu’s promotional materials, Season 1 of The Act is based on real events. At the end credits, the series warns us that some details may be not entirely accurate, but this is a true crime story, and reading the facts of the real case, it’s horrifying. Episode 1, “La Maison du Bon Reve”, offers this warm-looking suburban American neighborhood where Gypsy Blanchard (Joey King) and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette) live. The opening scene is set in 2015, where the Blanchard household is empty, and the police have been alerted that the pair have been missing.
The rest of Episode 1 brings us back to when the pair moved into the neighborhood. Their house was provided by a scheme called Habitat, which helps construct housing based on special needs. Due to Gypsy’s range of medical issues, the media have taken an interest in her, and news outlets are following them due to the fact they’ve been in trouble in previous neighborhoods. As a journalist interviews Gypsy and DeDee, it’s noticeable that the mother wants to answer all the questions, prompting the interviewer to request that Gypsy has the opportunity to have a voice.
I’m sure it was intentional and based on real-life interpretations, but Gypsy has a very vulnerable and sweet-sounding voice that would make butter melt. She partakes in conversations in such an overly confident and naive manner. You cannot help but feel a sense of endearment towards her. “La Maison du Bon Reve” shows their day to day living, her mother helping her do various tasks, like keeping her head bald, and tubing food into her stomach; there’s no exposition to explain what range of issues Gypsy has, and that’s the point.
You can feel the awareness emanating from the mother when they finally meet their new neighbors. Gyspy immediately befriends Lacey (AnnaSophia Robb) who kindly puts makeup on her in preparation for a charity event. Lacey’s mother Mel (Chloë Sevigny) is a no-bullshit person, and Dee Dee is immediately wary that her neighbor is suspicious of her. There’s a sense that due to the media coverage of the pair, Mel has her conclusions about Dee, and she can sniff it out in her.
Certain moments in Episode 1 make you wonder how controlling Dee Dee is; at one point Lacey tries offering Gypsy a can of coke, and she freaks out, claiming she is allergic to sugar. Later in “La Maison du Bon Reve” Gypsy gets hold of a fairy cake and starts licking the icing, and Dee Dee immediately jabs her with a pen and shoots her off to the hospital.
It’s worth noting that Gypsy isn’t entirely innocent herself, persuading her mother to steal at a market, which Mel witnesses. But Mel’s wariness thins a little when Dee Dee takes Gypsy to the hospital, probably in a moment of sympathy. The end of Episode 1 gives us a full picture of what we are dealing with in this true crime story. In the middle of the night, Gypsy takes off her oxygen mask, and walks downstairs while her mother sleeps; we now know she can walk. She goes to the fridge and consumes whipped cream, that gives no reaction. We receive a flashback in the hospital where the doctor is adamant Gypsy has no side effects to sugar. As Gypsy returns to bed, her mother angrily puts her oxygen mask back on her.
It’s clear that Season 1 of The Act is a story of control. The mother is mentally unstable, and it seems the story is framing it in a way where she genuinely believes her daughter has all these medical issues. Maybe over time, she has convinced herself the lies are truths. As Episode 1, “La Maison du Bon Reve” ends, it goes back to 2015; the police have a warrant and enter their home, and Dee Dee is deceased on her bed.
You can read our review of the second episode by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.