Written by: Adriana Gomez-Weston, CC2K Staff Writer
Do you remember the disturbing story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard? In the thrilling documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, HBO uncovered the truth behind Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was said to have the likes of muscular dystrophy, leukemia and epilepsy, to name a few. Due to Gypsy’s condition, she and Dee Dee were offered free housing, trips to Disney World, concerts, and public assistance. Gypsy and Dee Dee appeared to be the perfect mother-daughter duo with an unbreakable relationship, but things are not always as they seem.
In June of 2015, Dee Dee was found murdered in cold blood in her own home. On Gypsy’s Facebook page, there was an alarming message that said: “That Bitch is dead!”
Dee Dee was murdered by Gypsy’s boyfriend, Nick Godejohn (whom she met online). While she wasn’t the one to carry out the deed, Gypsy orchestrated it. How could she do something like that to her caring and protective mother? The truth was, despite her extensive medical record, Gypsy wasn’t truly sick. Gypsy had been made to believe she was ill for years. Dee Dee imprisoned and tortured her daughter for the majority of her life, isolating Gypsy from friends, family, and the public. Through an elaborate scheme, Dee Dee conned numerous organizations, such as Ronald McDonald House, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity, using Gypsy as a pawn in her wicked play for attention and a life of luxury.
After realizing something wasn’t right about the way she lived, Gypsy looked for a way out. However, the only way she could think of to escape was murder. Gypsy is currently in prison, in perfectly good health and self aware. She has been sentenced to ten years behind bars, a lenient sentence considering the deed she committed. While Dee Dee was a monster of the worst kind, the question is- did it justify Gypsy’s crime, and does that make Gyspy a monster too?
There is a name for this phenomenon: Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental illness in which sufferers purposefully injure or cause sickness to those in their care. Most of the time sufferers cause illness for attention from outsiders, and at other times they do it to bring attention to themselves.
In HBO’s Sharp Objects, Adora Crellin is a caretaker who thrives on being needed. She lives through being the center of attention. Of her three daughters, Adora openly admits she doesn’t love Camille. In “Falling,” it begins to make sense why that is. In Adora’s world, her love is dependent on her daughters’ willingness to succumb to her unquenched thirst for control. Camille never gave in to her mother’s need to be a savior. Marian, however, paid the ultimate price for it.
After Amma and Camille’s wild night out, Adora steps in to take care of them. Camille, as always, refuses her mother’s help. Adora, excited about taking care of her eldest daughter, tries to force different medicines on Camille. Camille insists she has work to do and limps away to continue her investigation. Used to Camille’s rejection, Adora gives up and moves on to Amma.
After spending time with Camille, Amma decides to stand up to Adora. She reminds Adora that she only has a hangover and is not really sick. Offended, Adora threatens to withhold affection and make Amma “pay her own way.” She even begins to dismantle Amma’s cherished dollhouse. Unwilling to lose her mother’s love, Amma gets back into bed and allows Adora to medicate her further.
Curious about the background of the Crellin women, Richard goes to look into Marian’s medical files after a tip from Jackie O’Neill. He finds a nurse named Beverly (Christine Rose) who claims they couldn’t find out her cause of death since she was “passed around” from doctor to doctor. The doctors state numerous ailments, such as Crohn’s Disease, heart palpitations, respiratory issues, and much, much more. While many conditions were suspected, none were confirmed. Even when she died, the doctor who treated Marian was someone who had never treated her before. Nurse Beverly tried to tell police, but she lost her job at the hospital. Since her firing, she denied other requests for information but kept Marian’s file just in case. When looking at Amma’s files, Richard uncovers another extensive list of conditions during her hospital visits, which include a feeding tube surgically added to her stomach.
The most devastating aspect of Amma’s behavior is the fact that she realizes Adora will never love her as much as she loved Marian. Amma has questions about life and realizes she may not live forever.
“You want me to be like Marian.” she says to Adora. Adora assures her that she is. Amma, on the other hand believes that she “could never be as good as someone dead.”
As indicated in previous episodes, we know Amma isn’t quite right. Like her mother, she has an intense desire for love and affection. How far will Amma go for it though? Referring back to the story of the Blanchards (which is coincidentally set in Missouri, too), Dee Dee’s mistreatment of her daughter bred something foul in Gypsy. Accustomed to a life of deceit, how much did Gypsy’s upbringing influence her sociopathic behavior? Viewers of the documentary were split in their responses to Gypsy. Is she someone we should pity, or is she someone who should be feared? If she was capable of orchestrating a murder and lying about her health, what else could she do if she were allowed to roam free?
Adora is a big factor in Camille’s self-harm and alcohol problems, but what about Amma? Living in a household of abuse and lies, can she ever be normal? It’s evident that she knows what her mother is doing to her and allows it. She even admits that after getting wasted the best thing about it is being taken care of by her mother.
After Richard finds Camille with John Keene, he drops Marian’s medical file in her car. Upon further review, Camille realizes that Jackie O’Neill requested information over the years. As Adora’s good friend, she knew what Adora was doing. Adora even influenced Jackie’s health. While she never personally treated Jackie, she had her own laundry list of conditions and an entire pharmacy to treat herself. She claims Camille always made it hard for Adora, but Marian would “sit back and take it.” She also tells Camille that Adora had her sister cremated, which means a crucial piece of evidence is long gone. Jackie admits no one would have believed her, but she could have saved Marian’s life.
Adora isn’t the confirmed killer of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, but how she was able to escape the law for so long is astounding. She’s responsible for Marian’s death, but there is a massive list of accomplices: doctors, nurses, Chief Vickery and the police, Jackie O’Neill, the Crellins’ housekeeper, Gayla, and Alan Crellin. The saddest thing of all is Marian could have easily been saved…and if she had been saved, Ann and Natalie would still be alive.
Georgia-born, (North) Carolina raised, Adriana is now based in Southern California (Migrating between San Diego and LA). As well as being a writer, she works as a film festival Marketing Coordinator. She has always been passionate about film, writing, and creating and celebrating work that champions diversity and feminism. She is also a potato enthusiast and fashion school defector.