(Gypsy and Dee Dee)
I have been anxiously awaiting this documentary on Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard, since reading the Buzzfeed longform article on it last August. This is the article that first brought the case to international attention, and writer Michelle Dean is rewarded for her efforts by being interviewed for the new documentary.
If you’ve never heard of this case before, I recommend you close this post here and go watch this documentary by HBO. If you’re a fan of this case, then this documentary will quench your thirst for more knowledge.
(Mugshots of Nicholas Godejohn and Gypsy Rose Blanchard)
The documentary expertly takes the viewer through the crime and the motivations behind it. It includes chilling footage of Gypsy crying in the police interview room when she first was told her mother was dead. There is also footage of Nicholas Godejohn, Gypsy’s boyfriend, in the interview room. Gypsy, her father, stepmother, maternal grandfather and maternal stepgrandmother are all interviewed for the film. What surprised me most was how little Dee Dee’s own father cared for her. I was shocked to hear him and Dee Dee’s stepmother state that Dee Dee tried to poison her stepmother, who was left bedridden for months afterwards.
Dee Dee was painted as a master manipulator and I have to agree with this assessment. It’s one thing to pretend your daughter has illnesses and profit from it, but for me it’s quite another to force your healthy daughter to undergo multiple medical procedures all to keep up the charade. Another thing I learned while watching this documentary is that, according to Gypsy, she was kept drugged up all the time on various medications.
As for Gypsy, I think Michelle Dean had it right when she was wondering if Gypsy has learned the art of manipulation from her mother. And how could she not? I wasn’t buying her baby-voice and crying over her mother’s murder. I think her true feelings were expressed in the immediate aftermath of the murder, with these Facebook posts authored by Gypsy:
I also think her extensive cosplay as ‘multiple personalities’ demonstrate how easy it is for her to slip into the role of someone else. While she was forced into this charade by her mother, Gypsy was able to adequately get everyone to believe she truly was disabled from the waist down, including her own father, which she knew was a lie. Gypsy stated that she truly believed she did suffer from all of the other conditions (muscular dystrophy, leukemia, vision and hearing impairment, among others).
I personally think Gypsy saw how easily manipulated Godejohn was. She painted herself as a damsel in distress who needed him to ‘save’ her from her mother. Her willingness to have sex with him the first time they met and to go along with his fantasies even though she apparently wasn’t into it, shows that she was trying to get him on her side.
But that’s not to say that I don’t understand why she wanted her mother dead. As long as her mother lived, Gypsy was not going to have a life of her own. She had tried running away before, but her mother dragged her back, and according to Gypsy, kept her handcuffed to a leash attached to the bed for a period of time afterwards. Gypsy was clearly unable to face killing her mother herself, so she practiced what her mother did every day: manipulation.
In the aftermath, Gypsy pretended she did not know her mother was dead. When pushed, she said she had no idea that Godejohn was going to kill her mother. She would have been forced to admit that lie when confronted with her own messages to Godejohn which planned out the murder. She further tries to paint herself in a good light by saying she sacrificed herself to be raped by Godejohn in exchange for him not sexually assaulting her mother.
I do hope that ten years in prison will rehabilitate Gypsy. I firmly believe that if Gypsy was raised by her father out of reach of her mother, she would be an upstanding member of society and wouldn’t be plotting murders. Let’s hope she’s able to recover from the abuse from her mother and not stoop to her mother’s old tricks.
(Gypsy looks happier and healthier in prison)
In conclusion, I highly recommend this documentary. It provides background into the case which was quickly sensationalized by the media. It delves into the abuse Gypsy received at the hands of her mother, details the mother’s manipulations before Gypsy was in the picture, including Dee Dee allegedly poisoning her stepmother. It was well-shot and presented the story in a suspenseful way. The documentary took the viewer through all the twists and turns of the story and included vital new information to the case. The interview with Gypsy throughout is particularly interesting.