The Act (Miniseries) (2019)

This dramatization of the murder case of DeeDee Blanchard starts off strong, but over the course of its eight episodes, slowly starts to drag until it runs out of steam ahead of its conclusion. The many scenes of psychological, physical and medical abuse that Blanchard inflicted upon her daughter in an ongoing effort to scam a variety of children’s charities (which has prompted a post-death diagnosis of munchausen by proxy) are so well-acted and well-constructed that the viewer can’t help but feel a torrent of sympathy for DeeDee’s daughter Gypsy Rose, and an overwhelming disgust for DeeDee herself. As DeeDee, Patricia Arquette tears into her role with her usual gusto, but unfortunately she’s restricted by the screenplay’s limited character development , as DeeDee is largely defined by her actions with little insight. Luckily, King is extraordinary as Gypsy, who is afforded a much more rounded characterization, and she’s well-matched by first-rate supporting performances all around, including a cast-against-type Chloe Sevigny, a committed Juliette Lewis and a deeply unsettling Calum Worthy as Gypsy’s boyfriend. It’s definitely worth watching for true crime fans and general audiences alike, even if it loses momentum in the end.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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