True crime documentaries are all the rage these days, and it seems that each new one that emerges makes an attempt to be more disturbing than the last. The newest entry in the genre,
HBO's , will be pretty difficult to top in that regard. The film, about the relationship between Mommy Dead and Dearest Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee, is unbelievably disturbing on a number of levels. And there are several photos of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard that really drive home just how awful this story truly is.
The film is about 24-year-old
Gypsy allegedly orchestrating the murder of her mother, but as the film progresses, it becomes clear this was no ordinary case of matricide. Gypsy was victimized by her mother for her entire life, and made to believe she was sick when she wasn't. Forced to fake having leukemia, epilepsy, and muscular dystrophy, Gyspy was made to use unnecessary medications, a feeding tube, and a wheelchair, and was constantly told she was dying, allegedly in order for Dee Dee to gain sympathy and financial benefits.
When Gypsy eventually realized the truth and desired her freedom, she reportedly came up with the plot to kill her mother. But despite her confessions to the crime, she received just a 10-year sentence, due to the abuse she received at her mother's hands. When you look at the following images of the mother and daughter, especially the photos where they seem so happy together, it lends this tale an extra level of tragedy.
1 The Wheelchair
The one aspect of her "illness" that Gypsy knew was bogus was her supposed inability to walk, and she would sometimes walk around her bedroom at night — but never in front of her mother. This image captures her faking her invalidity, smile on her face, which is all the more chilling when you know the whole story.
2 The Feeding Tube
Gypsy was forced to use a painful feeding tube that also fed her unneeded medications. This photo captures the pain she must have experienced having to go through that, especially since it was entirely unnecessary.
3 Best Friends
Gypsy's mother was her best friend, due to the fact that she was isolated from associating with anyone else. Obviously, that friendship was unhealthy and ended in the worst way possible, but there were times when Gypsy appeared to genuinely enjoy her mother's company.
4 The Deception
Gypsy and Dee Dee's entire life was a lie. Seen here, surrounded by what looks like enough medical equipment to treat a small village, the pair must have understood the absurdity of their situation.
5 The Medical Staff
Doctors and nurses were unwitting accomplices in Dee Dee's scheme, performing surgeries and prescribing medicines that ultimately weren't needed. It must have been devastating for these professionals when they discovered their role in torturing this poor young girl.
Gypsy loved Disney, and Dee Dee managed to swindle a free trip to Walt Disney World because of her daughter's fake illness. It goes to show how little conscience Dee Dee must have had, but at least Gypsy was able to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth.
7 Older Than She Looks
Gypsy was prevented from knowing her actual age, and often acted 10 years younger than she was. It's hard not to feel uncomfortable when looking at this photo of an adolescent Gypsy bathing in the sink as if she were a toddler.
8 The Illusion
As far as anyone who knew them could tell, Gypsy and Dee Dee were a loving family who were dealt a tragic hand in life. But little did they know, this family was never going to live happily ever after, despite outward appearances.
9 The House
As if scoring a trip to Disney wasn't enough, Dee Dee also managed to get free housing, and this picture shows the sheer amount of people who dedicated their time toward helping someone based on a lie. How Dee Dee was able to pull off these sorts of heists, while putting her daughter through hell at the same time, is a mystery.
10 The Ideal Mother & Daughter
To any casual observer — and even to those closest to them — Gypsy and Dee Dee appeared to have the ideal mother-daughter relationship. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as the tragic end to their relationship showed.
11 Gypsy's Feigned Happiness
Gypsy smiles broadly in practically every picture ever taken of her, but she was constantly struggling on the inside. As she got older, she realized more and more that she wasn't sick and that her own mother — the one person she trusted in the world — was the thing that was most hazardous to her health.
12 Starting Young
Dee Dee began her deception when Gypsy was only months old, completely robbing the girl of any semblance of a normal childhood. All of Gypsy's memories of her childhood must be filled with hospitals, medications, suffering, and lies.
13 Gypsy Suffered Immeasurably
It's impossible to imagine living the life that Gypsy did. Seen here, trying to put on a brave face, the young girl is covered in cuts and hooked up to innumerable wires. It's unlikely her stuffed monkey friend truly offered her any real comfort.
The story of Dee Dee and Gypsy is a hard one to hear about, and seeing pictures of the mother and daughter in real life only reinforces how catastrophically horrific this story is.