The show is based on Michelle Dean’s widely read 2016 BuzzFeed article about a toxic mother-daughter relationship. Academy Award-winner Patricia Arquette plays overbearing mother Dee Dee Blanchard, and Joey King her daughter, Gypsy. The series follows Dee Dee as she manipulates Gypsy and the outside world into believing her daughter is sick. Gypsy, in turn, harbors murderous intentions towards her mother. Chloë Sevigny and AnnaSophia Robb also star.
StarzPlay has already launched the show on its service in Canada, where it is its top-ranked program. In Canada it plays day-and-date with the U.S., but in Europe StarzPlay will drop all of the episodes at once. Starz pre-bought the series for its streaming service early in the production process, the first time it has acquired a show so early on.
“When the producers came and told us this was the most widely read BuzzFeed article ever and this could resonate globally, we took some time to do some analytics to see how much the story resonated elsewhere in the world,” Superna Kalle, EVP of international digital networks at Starz, told Variety. “It was on Hulu so we knew it would be premium and major, and it was just a fascinating story, so we took a risk, and it turned out really well.”
Starz has scooped exclusive rights to the series in the European territories for its streaming service. In the U.K., StarzPlay service is available on Prime Video Channels and Virgin Media, in Germany via Prime Video Channels, and in Spain via Vodafone and Orange TV.
Kalle said that the top shows on StarzPlay include “Power,” and there is a crossover audience for that series and “The Act.” StarzPlay is acquiring select shows to complement the U.S. pipeline of Starz programming, which now feeds directly onto the StarzPlay service in international markets.
“Within the territories we have announced, which are U.K. Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, the goal is to have more distributors – beyond that we’re going to be announcing [new territories] shortly,” Kalle said of how the StarzPlay service will develop internationally.
Universal Content Productions produced “The Act,” which Nick Antosca (“Channel Zero”) and Michelle Dean co-created and executive produced. Greg Shephard and Britton Rizzio are also exec producers.