• Network: HULU
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 20, 2019
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
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Critic Reviews

  1. Entertainment Weekly
    Reviewed by: Kerensa Cadenas
    Apr 29, 2019
    83
    Terrifying performances from Patricia Arquette and Joe King pair mommy issues with musical cues that fellow Hulu shows should take a note from. It's one hell of a Mommie Dearest ride. [3/10 May 2019, p.90]
  2. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Apr 3, 2019
    80
    For a certain kind of viewer, this show is riveting. It capitalizes on the dread of the disobedient daughter, attempting to grow under an umbrella of disapproval. But the strongest element of the show is not the act—not the performance of illness—but the violent relationship between the two leads, when they have dropped all their pretenses and affectations.
  3. Reviewed by: Sophie Gilbert
    Mar 21, 2019
    80
    Given that so much in Dee Dee and Gypsy’s relationship is unsaid, both actors powerfully communicate the subtext of their dynamic. The imagery The Act employs to build tension isn’t remotely subtle (red paint dripping down a wall, Dee Dee restraining her daughter with ribbons whose blue satin matches her Cinderella dress), but it works, thanks mostly to the sharpness of the performances.
  4. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Mar 20, 2019
    80
    The virtues of The Act are often distinct from the details of its dramatic arc. It’s more a ready-made parable of toxic parenthood or a mass-cultural case study than a thriller. ... Arquette’s Dee Dee combines vigilant motherhood, complicated victimhood, and complete monstrosity. The character will be remembered as an icon of our era of grift, alongside the antiheroes of “Fyre Fraud,” “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” and “The Apprentice.”
  5. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Mar 19, 2019
    80
    Even with some lags in pacing, each time I thought the story was running out of juice, it found a different gear and a different genre, all anchored by King and Arquette.
  6. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Mar 19, 2019
    80
    The Act rarely feels sensational—focused more on character than controversy—and Arquette and King are balanced by a very talented ensemble that includes Chloe Sevigny, Annasophia Robb, Dean Norris, and Calum Worthy.
  7. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Mar 14, 2019
    80
    The Act takes its time to reveal the depth and extent of the lies Dee Dee told, how Gypsy’s frustration with her mother would eventually escalate, and what may have been motivating both of them. The Act understands that the why in this tale, to the extent that we can know it, is as important as the what.
  8. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Mar 6, 2019
    80
    Arquette’s vivid performance in particular leans deliciously far into the show’s general lack of insight or commentary about the crime it depicts. ... Generally, The Act nails what it’s going for--a grotty, nasty, poisonous fable whose punch comes from the fact that some version of it really happened but that would be compelling regardless.
  9. Reviewed by: Katie Rife
    Mar 20, 2019
    75
    The gratification of The Act is in the telling. And the show, spread out over 10 leisurely hours that greatly expand on Lifetime’s condensed treatment of the story in the recent TV movie Love You To Death, only gets more compelling with every new reveal.
  10. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Mar 18, 2019
    73
    The Act sags a bit near the middle of five episodes made available for review--perhaps fewer episodes would have made for a tighter run--but Ms. Arquette’s nuanced performance remains top-notch, and Ms. King proves a talented newcomer with a bright acting future.
  11. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Mar 14, 2019
    70
    The riveting and increasingly twisted scenario plays like What Ever Happened to Baby Gypsy? [18-31 Mar 2019, p.13]
  12. Reviewed by: Malcolm Venable
    Mar 18, 2019
    69
    The Act never seizes an opportunity to make us understand why Dee Dee manufactured this system of toxic codependency missing out on an "Aha!" moment that might've made The Act magical. But for plain old Mommy horror fun, The Act does its job nicely
  13. Reviewed by: Amy Amatangelo
    Mar 20, 2019
    68
    Arquette and King turn in tour de force performances as the mother/ daughter pair in a hellish co-dependent relationship. ... Still, the series takes eight episodes (two premiere today, with one each week to follow) to tell a story that would have been better as a shorter mini-series or a made-for-TV movie.
  14. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    Mar 20, 2019
    67
    The combination of subject and sequencing creates an eerie atmosphere, but pushing a bit further stylistically could have made this a campy treat instead of something caught between sincere storytelling and the bizarre true story. Still, after five of the eight total episodes, The Act is a satisfying exploration of one girl’s desperate bid for independence.
  15. Reviewed by: Adrian Horton
    Dec 3, 2019
    60
    Arquette gives a human center to Dee Dee’s manipulations – a frantic and unnecessary EpiPen injection for a non-existent sugar allergy becomes, for example, both an act and a desperate act of love. Gypsy’s teary-eyed disappointment and shame are visceral. But still, the show makes clear that while it’s based on actual events, some of it is dramatized, and that knowledge feels suspect.
  16. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Mar 20, 2019
    60
    There are twists and turns to the central relationship and the reason it comes to a violent end, but the story starts to feel repetitive quickly, and the lead performances (and nimble direction by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Adam Arkin and others) can only mask that for so long.
  17. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    Mar 18, 2019
    60
    As engrossing as this story is, the Hulu series — which comes from Michelle Dean and Nick Antosca — starts to lag as it goes on.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 28
  2. Negative: 3 out of 28
  1. Apr 4, 2019
    4
    Another example of a series that drags its feet (well in that case, wheelchair) and tries the patience of the viewer by revealing the end ofAnother example of a series that drags its feet (well in that case, wheelchair) and tries the patience of the viewer by revealing the end of the story (Death of the mom) right in the first episode and asking us to focus on the psychological development of the characters and, thereby, gain insights into the sado-masochistic mother/daughter relationship.
    However, after about two episodes, this development stalls more or less. Then it follows the well-trodden path of the hundreds of similar average psycho-thrillers that have been the staple of middle-aged beach goers' literature and cinema over the last 60 years.
    This show just helps kill time, just not very efficiently....
    Plus point for the cinematography and the young actress though.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 27, 2019
    7
    I've been pleasantly surprised by this thus far. I watched the documentary, and was intrigued (but, hey, I love True Crime stuff). i don'tI've been pleasantly surprised by this thus far. I watched the documentary, and was intrigued (but, hey, I love True Crime stuff). i don't usually go for the reenactments, but this has a great cast and fills in a lot of the gaps the documentary just couldn't. Patricia Arquette is really knocking it out of the park this past year. She was phenomenal in Escape at Dannemora, and she doesn't let up here. Chloe Savigny is always a pleasure (but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a bit of prurient interest on my part. Don't get me wrong, she's amazingly talented, but I have a thing for her so I can't be trusted). The real surprise is Joey King. She does a great job as Gypsy. I had only seen her in passing in YA fare, but she's certainly holding her own in this Hulu original. Full Review »
  3. May 2, 2019
    7
    The Act Season 1 is very well done. The acting, writing, direction, and cinematography are superb. The action of the show ranges from creepyThe Act Season 1 is very well done. The acting, writing, direction, and cinematography are superb. The action of the show ranges from creepy to downright horrifying, with the actors' realistic portrayal of the characters making you even more uncomfortable. The show really drives home that reality is often far more terrifying than any slasher horror film. Patricia Arquette really makes you hate her character, and Joey King does a good job of conveying the complex nature of her character, for whom you feel sorry but with whom you become quite annoyed and frustrated. Ms. King is a very talented and promising newcomer. The only thing this show does not have going for it is that it's always going to live in the shadow of American Crime Story; as one of the best shows on TV (in my opinion), ACS is a very tough act to follow. Full Review »