Jeanette McCurdy opens up about 'toxic' relationship with her mum and compares it to The Act

Jess Hardiman

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Jeanette McCurdy opens up about 'toxic' relationship with her mum and compares it to The Act

Featured Image Credit: MediaPunch Inc/Alamy Stock Photo/Hulu

Warning: this article mentions eating disorders

Former actor Jeanette McCurdy has opened up about her ‘toxic’ relationship with her late mother.

McCurdy has compared her own experiences to those shown in 2019 true crime mini-series The Act – which was inspired by the real life story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mum Dee Dee. 

McCurdy, who is best known for playing Sam Puckett in Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly, has opened up about the alleged parental abuse she faced from her mum in her new memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died, which details her youth as a successful child star and the control from mum Debra that came with it. 

Jeanette McCurdy in iCarly. Credit: Nickelodeon
Jeanette McCurdy in iCarly. Credit: Nickelodeon

The 30-year-old has revealed how her mother controlled her life up until her early 20s, when Debra passed away from breast cancer in 2013. 

In the memoir, McCurdy said her mum encouraged ‘calorie restriction’ when she hit puberty so that she could appear smaller and book more roles for children, and would weight her five times a day – in turn triggering a life-long journey with anorexia and bulimia. 

“I have kept myself rail-thin and my body childlike and I have found the perfect combination of power and solace in that,” she wrote. 

“But now I feel out of control. Reckless. Hopeless. The old combination of power and solace is replaced by a new combination of shame and chaos.” 

Jeanette McCurdy with mum Debra. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Jeanette McCurdy with mum Debra. Credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

McCurdy also said Debra would force her to share showers with her until she was 16, and that her mum would perform breast and vaginal exams on her to check for lumps. 

Speaking to BuzzFeed about the book, she explained how she began to relate to narratives about mothers with Munchausen syndrome – a form of abuse in which a caregiver creates or exaggerates symptoms to make it look like a child is ill – thanks to what is described in the article as a ‘toxic’ relationship. 

This includes Hulu series The Act, which dramatised the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, the latter of whom was accused of abusing her daughter by fabricating illness and disabilities. 

2019 Hulu mini-series The Act. Credit: Hulu
2019 Hulu mini-series The Act. Credit: Hulu

“There’s that Munchausen by proxy relationship, and I’m like, relatable!” McCurdy said. 

“Which it shouldn’t be.” 

However, it’s not like Debra liked it when her daughter was unwell, as she simply told her to work through it, even when she was still a child. 

McCurdy continued: “There was one time where I got strep throat six times in one year. I see it now, it was just a result of burnout and exhaustion. But she was, at that point, so ill that she couldn’t intervene, but I still had her voice in my head.” 

She ended up developing a resistance to the antibiotics she’d been given to treat the condition, adding: “That was not a fun year.” 

After years of therapy, McCurdy now believes her mother may have had a combination of borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. 

Even so, she pointed out that the incredibly blunt title of her memoir is no hyperbole. 

“It’s something I mean sincerely,” she admitted. 

“I’m genuinely glad. If she were alive, I’d still be trapped. Every important decision in my life wouldn’t have been possible.” 

Topics: Celebrity, Film and TV

Jess Hardiman
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