Warning: This article contains spoilers from Feud: Bette and Joan.
Ever since it was announced that Ryan Murphy would be tackling one of Hollywood's most heated rivalries for his brand new anthology series Feud, we have been desperately counting down the days until we could see Joan Crawford and Bette Davis go head to head one more time. The first season of #Feud, subtitled Bette and Joan, will see Jessica Lange return to the Murphy fold after her award-winning stints on his hit series American Horror Story, only this time she's playing Crawford opposite Susan Sarandon's Davis.
The first episode of Feud: Bette and Joan was full of all the Hollywood glamour that one could have desired and both Lange and Sarandon steal every scene that they are in. With great lines and great costumes, Feud is a series that has #RyanMurphy's signature fingerprints all over it and is everything that a fan of Crawford and Davis could possibly want.
1. The Opening Credits Set The Tone
Ryan Murphy's television shows usually have stylistically brilliant opening credits — specifically the creep-tastic American Horror Story — so we were delighted that Feud followed suit. The credits are full of symbolism and re-create specific scenes from Davis and Crawford's film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? However, there is one specific scene during the credits that of great importance and that is when the two cartoonized versions of Crawford and Davis are being controlled by a large, intimidating puppet master.
While Crawford and Davis' rivalry was certainly one for the ages, there is debate about how much of it was real and how much of it was staged. It's true that there was no love lost between the actresses but, to a certain degree, Hollywood took advantage of the ladies' feud and pitted them against each other to gain publicity for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?
During the first episode, the film's director, Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) told both actresses exactly what they wanted to hear in an attempt to keep them both sweet and to benefit the production of his film. The credits perfectly represent just how Hollywood played the two women like puppets and then cast them aside when they were done.
2. 'Feud' Uses The Same Controversial Format As 'American Horror Story: Roanoke'
When the sixth season of Ryan Murphy's hugely successful American Horror Story began last September, the unusual documentary style of Roanoke bothered some viewers. In an attempt to deviate from the campy horror of previous seasons of the horror anthology show, #AHSRoanoke was told through a series of fictional TV series.
The first was My Roanoke Nightmare, which was a fictional documentary where the "real-life" versions of Matt and Shelby Miller recounted their horrifying experience while staying at the Roanoke farmhouse. Many people disliked how the interview scenes intercut with the narrative, commenting that it ruined the flow of the story, the build up of tension and ultimately spoilt the horror.
#FeudBetteAndJoan has adopted pretty much the exact same format. The show is told through a series of fictional interviews with a fictionalized version of Olivia de Havilland — played by Catherine Zeta Jones — recounting the infamous feud between Davis and Crawford.
3. Nod To Murphy's Accomplishment In The TV Horror Genre
When director Aldrich confronts Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci), he pleads with Warner to take on his Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? motion picture project. When Warner declines, Aldrich tells Warner that he must take it on because he knows that he is struggling, too — television is kicking his ass. Aldrich tells him that this project has stars and "a genre that television isn't doing," which is #horror.
Horror has been quite successful on TV in recent years, but it's Ryan Murphy who has played the biggest part part in that modern resurgence. Murphy generated interest in the idea of horror on television due to the success of #AmericanHorrorStory. The amazing thing is that Murphy didn't just bring one horror genre to television — he brought all the subgenres, too. From haunted houses to the perception of mental illness to found footage, American Horror Story has covered all of these concepts. Horror may not be done that often on television, but Murphy has proven that all of these horror movie elements can work just as well on TV.
Want to know more about Feud? Check out these:
- Will FX's 'Feud: Bette And Joan' Recreate These Iconic 'What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?' Scenes?
- Happily Never After: 7 Other Notorious Celebrity Feuds That Would Make Excellent Stories For Feud
- Right In The Crown Jewels: Ryan Murphy Announces Royal Family Theme For Feud Season 2
4. The Use Of The "C" Word
Anyone that is a fan of FX programming knows that there is a limit when it comes to swearing on these shows. Just like any basic cable channel, certain words just aren't permitted. That's why were were all shocked with Warner's choice of words when he launched into a tirade about how he would never work with Davis again. Take a look below:
"You want me to work with her again? Are you f**king crazy? Never. Never again, that c**t."
FX is by no means PG, and you'll certainly hear words like "shit" in their original programming, but "f**k" is certainly a rarity and "c**t" is almost unheard of, no matter what network or platform it's on. Feud executive producer shed some light on why they felt this usage of the word was necessary in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
It was gratuitous coming from the mouth of the character but it wasn't gratuitous in terms of the story that we're telling. One well-placed epithet like that is like a bracing, toss of cold water in the audience's face and it says something. Not if you're dropping it every five seconds. So that's why it's there; it's there because that's the ugly soul that we're exposing a little bit."
5. Lange and Sarandon Are Credited As Producers
It's pretty cool for a show that focuses so heavy on sexism and ageism that both leading actresses, Lange and Sarandon, are credited as producers. It's not the first time that leading actors or actresses have served as a producer on their own TV show —Sarah Jessica Parker did it with Sex and The City, for example— but it's definitely noteworthy due to the way Crawford and Davis were treated.
I'm glad we're living in an era when women can show that talent doesn't age — Lange and Sarandon are capable of much more than we probably know. The same applies for Crawford and Davis. It's just a shame that the sexist Hollywood titans of the Feud era aren't around today to see women getting the respect they deserve.
Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays on FX.
What do you think of 'Feud: Bette and Joan'?
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]