Some true-crime documentaries have to embellish and overstate to justify giving so much attention to a garden-variety criminal case. Not “Mommy Dead and Dearest,” which has its premiere Monday night on HBO. The strangeness of this killing speaks for itself, and the director, Erin Lee Carr, largely just lets it do so.
The focus is the killing of Dee Dee Blanchard in June 2015 in Springfield, Mo., a case in which Ms. Blanchard’s daughter, Gypsy, and her boyfriend became suspects.
“Things are not always as they appear,” Jim Arnott, the sheriff of Greene County, Mo., says in a film clip seen early in the documentary, and it turns out to be a candidate for understatement of the year.
That Gypsy, who was in her early 20s, would have had a role in killing her mother surprised those who had contact with her because the Gypsy they had seen used a wheelchair and had a diminished, childlike mental capacity. Investigators, though, soon realized that Gypsy could walk and that her myriad medical problems had largely been fictitious.