Gypsy Rose Blanchard deserves public empathy, not prison time

For the past couple weeks, the true-crime television series on Hulu, “The Act,” has taken viewers through a rollercoaster of suspense, shock and disbelief. Although the series is highly dramatized, it’s important to remember that it tells a very real story. 

Gypsy Rose Blanchard is currently serving jail time for a second-degree murder charge—10 years to be exact—but knowing the circumstances of what pushed Gypsy to the point of murder has found many viewers troubled because Gypsy does not deserve the jail time she is serving. 

For those who don’t know the story, Gypsy grew up believing that she was both physically and mentally ill. In reality, she was perfectly healthy—but that’s not what her mother Dee Dee wanted her to know. 

A mother is supposed to be protective of her child, but Dee Dee took it to the extreme. She created an illusion that Gypsy was very sick, and even required Gypsy to confine herself to a wheelchair.

She had everyone fooled—including Gypsy. 

It’s difficult to even try to understand why Dee Dee did what she did, but some explanation for her motives may lie in the attention and benefits Gypsy received for her illnesses. Gypsy was honored by foundations, received donated money and trips and earned awards as well as a house for her and Dee Dee to live in. In that house is where Dee Dee was eventually murdered. 

If there is a victim in this story, however, it’s Gypsy. Children are told to believe their parents and do what they’re told; that’s exactly what Gypsy did. 

She stayed in a wheelchair although she possessed full mobility because her mother told her to. She endured the pain of a feeding tube and an oxygen tank she didn’t need. Dee Dee shaved Gypsy’s head and pulled her teeth to give the appearance of illness. Gypsy was told she had the physical age of a 14-year-old and the mental age of a child, despite actually being a functional 18-year-old woman. 

The way Dee Dee mistreated and lied to Gyspy was abuse, there is no way around it. She was abused physically and mentally by her own mother for her entire life, up until Dee Dee’s murder. Once Gypsy started to figure out the truth about herself and her mother, she made multiple attempts to escape, but Dee Dee always found a way to track her down and bring her back. 

It was almost impossible for Gypsy to reach out to a police officer or a doctor for help because everyone saw Gypsy as the mentally and physically sick girl who needed to be returned to her mother. The murder of Dee Dee Blanchard was self-defense. Who knows what would have happened to Gypsy if she never escaped that house? 

“Over here, I feel like I’m freer in prison than living with my mom,” Gypsy said, according to Newsweek. Gypsy deserves intensive therapy and the freedom that she’s never had.

While the Hulu original show sits under a critical eye, as all dramatized true crime accounts do, it forces viewers to consider Gypsy’s side of the story. 

Upon delving deeper into the true story beyond the television screen, it is clear that Gypsy Rose Blanchard does not deserve the prison sentence she received.