What’s it about?
Feud is a high-class drama series celebrating the backstage bitterness and rivalry between two superstars. Season One details Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford.
Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Judy Davis, Jackie Hoffman, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, Alison Wright
An Introduction to Feud
Feud Season One is set in the early 1960s, and we join legendary movie actress Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange), who is finding the available roles a bit lacking for a woman of her age. In fact, the situation is downright insulting: how about a bit-part role as a granny? No thank you. For a woman used to all the trappings and glamor of a center stage star, this just won’t do at all.
Meanwhile, equally legendary movie actress Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) has adapted slightly better to the same unjust treatment by transferring her considerable talent to the stage – even though the age-appropriate roles are almost always incidental characters. Bette is more than aware of the age-ist situation, but her strength and defiant nature have kept her resilient.
Joan is determined to find a new starring role in a movie and secure the all-important studio backing that would allow her to shine, hopefully as before. Maybe she could assemble all the primary ingredients for a movie herself and pitch it to a studio? Better still, what if she joined forces with another major player? Twice the star power!
After research, the perfect story for this project presents itself. It’s a dark tale pitched firmly in the currently fashionable horror genre that offers two powerful leads. It goes by the name of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and things are about to get… ‘interesting’.
“You mean all this time we could have been friends?” – ‘Baby Jane’ Hudson
Feud is a premier-quality drama series from director and producer Ryan Murphy (co-creator of Glee and American Horror Story, among others). Each season details a dramatized account of a historical battle of wills between two high-profile figures. The series commences in superb style with ‘Bette and Joan’, with ‘Charles and Diana’ set for Season Two.
In the current, much-cited “Golden Age of TV”, Feud unquestionably sits at the top table. Season One is a visually gorgeous, lovingly-realized dramatization of a fascinating pairing of powerhouse actresses in an ageist industry. Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon own their characters with affectionate relish and nuance, backed up by a superb A-list cast including Stanley Tucci as Jack L. Warner (head of Warner Bros.) and Alfred Molina as famed director/producer Robert Aldritch.
“Feuds are never about hate. Feuds are about pain.” – Olivia de Havilland (Catherine Zeta-Jones)
So what was behind Bette and Joan’s famous feud? Here are two talented, charismatic women with a wealth of experience at the very top of the movie star business. One might imagine they would form a mighty alliance to take on an age-obsessed, male-led media, but this is where egos, issues and misinformation come into play. Yes, they were very different personalities with a hoard of incompatible opinions and values, but wouldn’t a sense of sisterhood over-ride all that in this time of need? Enter the studio’s PR and the gossip press…
What angle would a media-obsessed and voyeuristic public prefer? Two well-loved actresses uniting for a disturbing, psychological horror movie… or two old has-beens that REALLY hate each-other airing their baggage on-screen? What shifts units and gets bottoms on seats? The media machine goes to work and the fires of disharmony are stoked.
Feud is supremely worthy of your binge-watching time. You may even be moved to seek out more on its subject matter, whether watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or looking up old pictures. This, while entirely optional, will make you chuckle in appreciation of how many details the show has painstakingly got right. Enjoy!
Check out the Season 1 Trailer here: