Saturday, March 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Act' - Gypsy Starts to Question Her Life After Moving to a New Neighborhood in 'La Maison du Bon Reve'

Hulu's The Act - Episode 1.01 "La Maison du Bon Reve"

Doting mother Dee Dee Blanchard and her sweet daughter Gypsy arrive in a new neighborhood, where Gypsy feels lonely due to a barrage of medical issues and eager to make friends. But their new neighbors can be nosy, and Dee Dee and Gypsy have secrets to hide.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Hulu's The Act.

"La Maison du Bon Reve" was written by Michelle Dean & Nick Antosca and directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

There is an element of fantasy at play in the lives of Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard. They wish to live in the realities where hope can allow them to overcome any obstacle. It's the way that they outwardly present themselves to the world. Sure, Gypsy may be chronically sick and in need of a ton of help from her mother and various nonprofits around the world. And yet, there are such simple and idealistic goals amongst this family as well. They yearn for friends and a sense of community. They see Disney films as the ideal for what their lives should be like. It's perfectly acceptable that they live in a house that is literally a dream come true for them thanks to Habitat for Humanity. They are the beneficiaries of so much kindness from the world. They get help from programs who are invested in human struggles such as the ones pertaining to this family. The people of this neighborhood are kind and welcoming. All it takes is a nice party for everyone to fully embrace them. And yet, there is a sinister sense of dread underlining every single action of this story as well. That is evident from the first moment where in 2015 Mel and Lacey are worried about the Blanchards. That leads to the eventual discovery of Dee Dee being stabbed to death in her bed. That's chilling. But it's even more so to learn that Gypsy may not be suffering from the illnesses her mother claims she has. Dee Dee and Gypsy are so close. They are best friends. They love spending time with each other. But there is also the sense that they are too close. Sure, that may be understandable given the medical hurdles Gypsy has faced in her life. And yet, this premiere really lays out how Dee Dee is always watching over her daughter. Even when she is talking with someone else, she is looking away to see if her daughter is staying out of trouble. She feeds her through a feeding tube in her stomach and smacks sweets out of her hand because of an apparent sugar allergy. Gypsy is more than encouraging of her mother's actions as well. She understands that her mother is shoplifting in order to provide for her. It's a rush for both of them. However, the audience should also get the sense that Gypsy has long believed in her medical problems because that's the story her mother has always told her. Only now is she starting to push the limits. It's such a fascinating dichotomy. She is a unique mixture of a young girl who has a high-pitched voice and tiny frame with a teenager starting to question her parent and become sexually curious. Dee Dee insists that Gypsy has the mental capacity of a young girl. But that doesn't seem to be the case at all. Gypsy wants to be best friends with Lacey. She is curious about the world and what it means to have a best friend and a boyfriend. She wants that freedom but her mother is very restrictive. Of course, this is the way that Gypsy has always known the world. As such, there is a significant amount of trepidation whenever she pushes her limits. She understands that she isn't as sick as she presents to be. Even in her private moments though, she continues to tell the stories that her mother has shared. She doesn't have the strength to stand up to her mother or confess to anyone else. It remains a very private struggle for her. She can walk. It's chilling as she cracks her bones as she ventures into the kitchen to consume some sugar. It's a freeing moment but a terrifying one as well. It's only punctuated further with the realization that Dee Dee may be losing control but will continue to exert her influence for as long as possible to maintain this reality she has created for herself. But that's a reality that will only lead to tragedy.