Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017)

mommy dead and dearest poster 2017 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score

Interesting case where everyone seems to hold some guilt

Could have even been more in depth

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mommy Dead and Dearest

Studio: HBO Documentary Films

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  March 11, 2017 (South by Southwest)/May 15, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

mommy dead and dearest munchausen syndrome by proxy

I want to thank my mom for keeping me sick and disabled so I can be here today

Dee Dee Blanchard has been murdered and her daughter Gypsy Rose and her boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn are under arrest for the crime.  As the investigators look into the crime, they discover a tale of Munchausen by Proxy, chronic illness, and deceit.  Gypsy Rose might have helped kill her mother, but the crimes leading up to the murder are reprehensible Who is guilty?  Who is innocent?

Directed by Erin Lee Carr, Mommy Dead and Dearest is a true-crime HBO documentary.  The story is about the murder of Clauddine “Dee Dee” Blanchard (May 3, 1967-June 13, 1967) and the investigation into the crime.  The film premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival and aired on HBO on May 15, 2017.

True crime is having a real surge in the United States.  I have to admit being into the true crime craze.  The ideas behind true-crime is what pushes someone over the edge and could it happen to you?  Is it justified or truly a crime of a depraved mind?  Mommy Dead and Dearest presents a really tough call.

mommy dead and dearest dee dee nephew

I’d totally watch a reality show about this guy

Dee Dee Blanchard made her own killer.  While in theory Gypsy Rose was old enough to know better and seems pretty intelligent and with it in interviews in the film, she has been subject to years and years abuse by the person who is supposed to protect her.  This can warp a person.  Did Gypsy Rose know what she was doing when she had her boyfriend Nicholas (who also had been diagnosed with his own problems) murder her mother?  That is up for debate…but even if she did was the murder justified because Dee Dee would continue to torture her daughter for unseen years if she hadn’t…it was in Dee Dee’s nature.

Gypsy Rose is the real question.  In all honesty, the interviews in this documentary don’t really help her.  She is coherent and seems brighter than some people her age.  Was she seeking an out and did she have any understanding of her mother’s crimes which incorporated and used her as a part of the scheme?  You can’t really say.  It is Munchausen by Proxy to begin with but evolves into almost a Stockholm syndrome type situation.  It is a question of how much Gypsy Rose really understood of her situation and how much was ingrained in her upbringing…that is something that an hour and a half documentary can never explain.

mommy dead and dearest visitation ending gypsy rose blanchard

Yeah it was totally worth killing her to be free…even if I am in prison

The documentary is obviously pro-Gypsy Rose so that has to be kept in mind.  Interviews with her and her family show that Dee Dee was a horrible person, but it is also important to remember that Dee Dee was also probably mentally ill.  Could she determine what was right and what was wrong in what she was doing?  Gypsy Rose’s stepmother (and Gypsy Rose’s scene stealing cousin) question how a mother could do that to her child…but the idea that something was wrong with Dee Dee isn’t really explored.  It is just assumed.  It feels like Dee Dee’s past is relatively undefined.

Mommy Dead and Dearest is a documentary with no right answer.  It is a rare occasion where I personally feel like they got the judgment right.  With good behavior, Gypsy Rose could be out of prison in less than ten years…this is accurate for someone who committed a crime but whose whole life was also almost taken.  The real loser in this situation is Godejohn who also has his own problems.  Gypsy Rose grew up under a master manipulator and seems smart enough to gleam how to manipulate people.  The already troubled (and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome) Godejohn became her tool for escape…and paid for it.  Overall, it was a bad situation all around.  No one was in the right but to claim that someone is “guilty” was also something extremely difficult.  It was a lose-lose situation and therefore worth exploration.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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