TV Review - The Act (2019)
Joey King (Fargo and The Conjuring) stars as Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a young girl of indeterminate age. She seems like she could be a minor under the age 16 but there's a question of if she's 18 or older. She speaks like a baby doll and as if she's of limited intelligence, due to some kind of mental disability. What isn't indeterminate is that she looks as if she has a physical disability as well. She's literally seen in a wheelchair. She either can't or has difficulty walking. She also doesn't eat solid food. Instead, she has a feeding tube on her stomach, which requires her food to be liquefied in a blender and pumped into her with a machine.
Patricia Arquette (Escape at Dannemora and Medium) co-stars as Dee Dee Blanchard, the mother to Gypsy Rose. She's the caregiver. She does so because she loves her daughter, but she seems very exhausted and at times frustrated. She's also overly protective, not really allowing her daughter to do anything or go anywhere far or without supervision. She's very controlling and domineering of her daughter. She almost doesn't want her daughter to be independent. She's co-dependent and compels her daughter to be co-dependent as well. She almost wants her daughter to be sick, so she can reap whatever government or charity benefits or so she can simply reinforce her co-dependency and love, which would make Dee Dee possibly suffering from Munchausen Syndrome by proxy.
Calum Worthy (American Vandal and Austin & Ally) also co-stars as Nick Godejohn, the eventual boyfriend of Gypsy Rose. He too has mental health issues. He doesn't seem so at first, but it becomes obvious later that he is autistic. He states that he has multiple personalities, including one personality that is very violent. He's also into BDSM, although weirdly he meets Gypsy Rose on a Christian dating website. After Nick's introduction, the series ceases to be simply about a warped mother-daughter relationship. It morphs into something that wants to resemble Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
It's sad. It's heartbreaking. It's creepy. It's funny. It's weird. It's enlightening. It's insightful. It's brilliantly executed in almost every way. With great guest stars like Dean Norris, Margo Martindale and Juliette Lewis, no question, this is one of the best series of the year.
Running Time: 1 hr. / 8 eps.
Available on Hulu.