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The other night I was just casually cussing out my Sling account because it kept freezing up 10 minutes into the latest episode of The Americans when I saw something new catch my eye, Feud: Bette and Joan. Realizing I was never going to get past Paige working on her self-defense moves with my eternal salvation intact, I decided to watch the pilot episode.
I pressed play thinking I was going to be mildly entertained by a campy Ryan Murphy project, and what I got instead was a pressure cooked pot roast of perfect. Feud has everything we love about television, and about pop culture. It’s Mad Men meets The People vs OJ Simpson meets VEEP meets Real Housewives with fantastic sets and dialogue and none percent that horrible Jennifer L-Hewitt Audrey Hepburn biopic. Here’s what we get.
There’s a reason we love the Kardashians (or why you people love them) and blind items and tell-alls; they give us a glimpse into the underside of what goes on in Hollywood. Everyone is all smiles on the carpet, but the truth is grittier. You can’t tell me that Dame Judi and Felicity Huffman weren’t having a mother-trucking FIELD DAY over Reese winning with them weak ass, barely the 10th of June Carter vocals in 2006. But Feud gives it to you straight from the horse’s mouth in gloriously sharp delivery.
I don’t know what Gloria Swanson was nominated for, but I’m Netflix-ing (or TMCing) it this weekend. Shit sounds good.
Not only does it have great music and graphics, but it pays homage to the original movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? with cutting accuracy. A movie about a feud inspiring a real life feud inspiring a television show about that feud all playing out in kindergarten shaped animation. I love it. Gets me in the mood for the show.
Costume designer Lou Eyrich has the enviable job of recreating the 60s era casual and formal wear of some major Hollywood icons. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford have their own trademark silhouettes, so much so that we can imagine them in perfect black shadow, and it’s captured perfectly from their bedrooms, to their dressing rooms to their press rooms. It even helps to tell the story of their differences as actresses and icons.
P.S. Sporty Bette as she hits set is #goals. Y’all, she wears furs over capris and a regular blouse!!!!
If you’re here for the Dowager Countess Meets Selina Meyer quotables you can use in real life, you have found the CORRECT SHOW FOR YOUR INTERESTS.
I cannot even begin to capture them all in this post. Just watch. I will be saying, “Not yooooouuuu, bitch,” in that perfect delivery until the end of time.
Any show that has me googling who won the Oscars in 1950 and 1962 and reading old stories about Joan Crawford calling all of the nominees offering to accept on their behalf (since back then if you were in England or New York working you didn’t fly to LA just for an award) is an ENGROSSING STORY. I have about half a dozen black and white movies lined up in my Amazon Watch List. I’m gonna be so well versed in Joan Blondell by this summer.
But let’s get down to the real reason this show is effing spectacular. It may be about aging Hollywood icons trying to best one another, but at its core it’s about female inequality, opportunity and sexism. Bette and Joan are working mothers, divorcees and talented artists. And they are trying to navigate the ever-so-sexist waters of Hollywood using the best tactics they have: mainly hyper vigilance, intelligence and manipulation.
But along the way they are dropping truth bombs like you would not believe. Every episode becomes less about their differences and more about their twin struggle. It makes the moments when they team up all the more delicious.
Alison Wright very literally makes every single show is on better. Did you watch Sneaky Pete? She was tough and smart and amazing and her accent was so good you couldn’t tell what it was. Martha on The Americans is SO ESSENTIAL that I’m not even enjoying season 5 without her (see also my Sling account being a dick). And now as Pauline on Feud, she’s a marked female presence. She fits every bill. I love her.
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