One of Hulu’s latest series is a true-crime drama called “The Act.” Episode 7 of “The Act” makes effective use of the song “Bonnie and Clyde” by Brigette Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg.
The series’ storyline is based on the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. Dee Dee, a single mother, kept her daughter Gypsy Rose, in a wheelchair even though she could walk. And that was just the beginning. According to the series’ storyline, Dee Dee also attributed to Gypsy Rose a series of ailments and fed her through a feeding tube. A closet full of pharmaceuticals were also put into Gypsy Rose’s food. Eventually, Dee Dee had all of Gypsy Rose’s teeth pulled. And, Dee Dee put her daughter to work helping her shoplift, even though money from organizations that help sick children, not to mention child support checks, were coming in. Dee Dee also insisted on bathing her daughter, who was not 16 (which, of course, is still too old to be bathed by one’s mother if a person is able to manage otherwise) but was 21.
The isolation, lies and abuse build up. Gypsy Rose begins to literally find her footing and walks around the house that has been donated to them, and gorges on sugar. During that episode, Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” plays. The episode illustrates another of Dee Dee’s lies: that Gypsy Rose is allergic to sugar. Eventually, Gypsy Rose finds the money that has been hoarded by Dee Dee, and on a trip to the mall for shoplifting, buys a computer. This is a pivotal moment. The computer allows her to begin connecting with young men online. Gypsy Rose eventually meets the troubled Nick. Nick is the first person Gypsy Rose tells the truth of her life. Their meeting puts in motion the reason the pair have become infamous.
The show’s creators have used a single song to underscore the dynamic between the troubled young people – – “Bonnie and Clyde.”
“Bonnie and Clyde” by Brigette Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg
While Bardot’s name accompanies her iconic image, Gainsbourg might be a lesser-known entity. He was a sort of renaissance artist – – a poet, film composer, singer, songwriter, pianist and painter – – who met the famous actress in the late 1960s. They had a brief affair, and in the midst of it, recorded the single “Bonnie and Clyde” for the album of the same name.
According to Spin magazine, “Bonnie and Clyde” is one of the top alternative albums of the 1960s. The song is understated in its allure, and is almost entirely in French except for the title pair’s name. The singers’ accents over a smart-sounding ambient pop background makes viewers focus on the music rather than the actors at least for a moment. The lyrics are taken from a poem that Bonnie Parker wrote toward the end of her life. The poem is eerie in that it foretells the deaths of the pair. While Nick and Gypsy Rose might not be heading toward death in a literal sense, certainly what they have done gets them attention they might not have wanted, and while they still live, their lives are changed forever.
The song “Bonnie and Clyde” plays up the idea that another young pair of lovers feel as though they have few choices, and none of them are acceptable. The names “Bonnie and Clyde” carry with them the connotation of risk-taking and pushing societal boundaries as far as they will go.
For viewers seeking unique songs that have not been in heard in a while, Bardot’s and Gainsbourg’s album is full of French and English-titled gems that prove why it gets mentioned on “best of ” lists. For the title track’s part in the show, its placement creates atmosphere and illustrates character in a way that is surprisingly effective.