Mommy Dead and Dearest

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Dee Dee’s evil eye.

HBO scores again with Mommy Dead and Dearest,  a documentary about a wheelchair-bound, cancer-ridden, mentally retarded adolescent (in reality much older and completely healthy) who plotted to murder her mother. Her on-the-spectrum, sexually perverse, internet boyfriend did the actual deed in a stabbing frenzy while the daughter cowered in the bathroom. Before the lovebirds fled into the night, Gypsy Rose (that she’s named after the famous stripper only adds another layer of weird to this already twisted Southern Gothic tale) wrote on the Facebook page she shared with her mom: “That bitch is dead.” She might as well have written “ding dong the witch is dead” because former cotillion queen, Dee Dee Blanchard, on the surface a caring mother who spent her time raising funds to treat her ailing daughter, was beneath the mask a wicked witch of mythical proportions: the Lady Macbeth of a stunning Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy drama.

It’s all about Dee Dee

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The pageant queen

Like other Munchausen cases, it’s all about attention for mom. But Dee Dee’s machinations were also about money, and she conned a lot of cash out of good-hearted folks who thought they were helping out a very sick young girl. Despite fourteen years confined to a wheelchair with a feeding tube attached, through which her mother administered a pharmacy’s worth of unnecessary and potentially lethal medication,  Gypsy could walk and digest just fine; her hair grows out thick and glossy after a bit of prison time, and despite having only a second-grade education, she appears quite intelligent and articulate in interviews. And yet..

She did a bad, bad thing.

Rebelling in her own way, ,Gypsy meets weirdo Nicholas Godejohn through a Christian dating website and instantly transfers her submissiveness from under mother’s thumb to his. A journalist covering the case observes, “You can’t stop adolescent sexuality from blossoming.” With hormones raging, together they slay the dragon of their own warped fantasy world of multiple personalities, Disney films, and BDSM–she gives up her virginity to him in the men’s bathroom where they meet at a cineplex to watch Cinderella while mom waits in the theater. You can’t make this shit up. 

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Gypsy light…
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Gypsy dark.

Gypsy the teenage witch

While Dee Dee favored dressing her daughter like a circus pin-head, The autistic boyfriend brings out her wild side, and she appears to jump effortlessly from innocent princess to knife-wielding witch . After the documentary, one is left wondering who the real Gypsy is; it’s implied that she may be as skilled a con-woman as her mother. Her sentence of ten years appears merciful and fair considering the mitigating circumstances, but did she use the boyfriend to mastermind the entire plot? He’s looking at a life sentence. Pretty steep price to pay for a bit of bathroom booty.

Her good-ole-boy, shrimp fishing  daddy, who fathered Gypsy at seventeen is featured in the film with his pretty new wife. Presenting a picture of normalcy in the midst of insanity, he appears visibly flummoxed by the entire mess and blames himself for not standing up to wicked witch, Dee Dee. If there is a positive note to all of this, there’s a sense that he has reestablished his relationship with his daughter. Let’s hope she’s not conning him.

Bayou Black Magick

Some of the most compelling parts of this story are the interviews with Dee Dee’s Cajun relatives, from the tattoo artist nephew who describes her as a wicked sociopath who began as a low-level grifter writing so many bad checks she was run out of Slidell on a rail to her father and stepmother who relate how Dee Dee allowed her own mother, a reported con-woman herself, to starve to death in her own filth under her care and possibly poisoned her stepmother. When presented with Dee Dee’s ashes post-mortem, no one will claim them, preferring to flush that black magick down the toilet. Can’t say I blame them.

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