The second episode of FX’s new Ryan Murphy show Feud, appropriately titled “The Other Woman,” drilled down on the feud at the heart of the drama ― or, more specifically, why it didn’t really need to happen at all.
The episode begins with Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) getting her hackles up about the young, blonde actress (Kenzie Dalton) hired to play the next-door neighbor in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Part of the problem is Crawford’s insecurity about aging, but part of it is her worry about director Robert Aldrich‘s (Alfred Molina) wandering eye and penchant for blondes. He gets distracted by this PYT and suddenly the film is ruined.
“We have to support each other, Bette,” Crawford tells her co-star. “I’m worried our director isn’t taking care of us, so we have to take care of each other.”
The fans were all in for this camaraderie.
— julia (@schmoverrated) March 13, 2017
— Suzanne Morse (@sznnmorse) March 13, 2017
I wish Joan & Bette would have teamed up against the suits, They would have ruled the studios in the 40's #FeudFX
— CarolinaCHERCREW (@jameskwaters) March 13, 2017
— Alex (@alecxs15) March 13, 2017
But the studio can’t have these two famed rivals getting along, that’s not what the gossip-mongering fans want to hear. And it’s not what will open What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? on 400 screens nationwide, which was a huge opening for 1962.
This Feud fan sums up the problem:
Two women getting along it's so dangerous #FeudFX
— Laura Maher (@lauramaher25) March 13, 2017
It’s dangerous ― for the men and the publicity machine.
Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) railroads Aldrich into fanning the feud flames and Aldrich complies, planting some vicious quotes about Crawford’s falsies in Hedda Hopper‘s (Judy Davis) column, allegedly said by Davis.
Crawford retaliates by not only going on record with some vicious quotes about Davis looking old, but giving the rebuttal to Louella Parsons, Hopper’s infamous gossip column rival.
What it all boils down to is these strong women, who really can rule the world when they work together, being pitted against each other by men.
This fucking show about women still has a goddamn narrative for a dude treating them like garbage #FeudFX
— sketch queen (@treatzzzz) March 13, 2017
MEN. Are rarely innocent parties to the friction between women #FeudFX
— Shauntel J (@essayjenkins) March 13, 2017
Like most feuds, this is proving that–although they had their issues, the folks around them completely manipulated Bette & Joan #FeudFX
— sj (@SharSaysSo) March 13, 2017
The saddest part is that both Davis and Crawford could use not only each other as friends, but Aldrich too. If he could keep it in his pants, and they weren’t so blinded by insecurity and loneliness, the trio could have been unstoppable — as friends.
Women in Hollywood … it's a no-win situation far too often. Pitted against each other. Held to insane standards by men. #FeudFX
— Minda Powers-Douglas (@cemeteryminda) March 13, 2017
Aldrich is not acting in either woman’s interest. And don’t even get us started on Warner.
— Ronnieboi_M (@Ronnieboi_M) March 13, 2017
I love how this show will forever immortalize Jack Warner and Robert Aldrich's jack-assery #FeudFX
— Carissa Martin (@mygreattaproot) March 13, 2017
How did Jack Warner die? I'm hoping it wasn't painless. #FeudFX
— Kellen☽ (@MathisThorne) March 13, 2017
Susan Sarandon herself summed the whole thing up quite nicely:
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) March 13, 2017
Some observers in the media, however, grumbled about the episode being all feud, no substance.
I wish Feud were more interested in who Davis and Crawford were, not just in their age, their monstrosity, and their insecurity.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) March 13, 2017
@MarkHarrisNYC FEUD manages to be both not insightful historiography nor fun camp. Quite a trick!
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) March 13, 2017
Despite how depressing it is to think how amazing Crawford and Davis could have been as friends and colleagues if they weren’t being manipulated by the studios, the drama certainly made for an excellent episode. It explored exactly what creator Murphy set out to do: examine the way Hollywood treats actresses, especially as they age. Many viewers thought this was an even stronger offering than the premiere.
Lmaoooo this episode is only halfway through and it's already better than the premiere #FeudFX
— sj (@SharSaysSo) March 13, 2017
— Kristin (@itskristind) March 13, 2017
Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays at 10/9C on FX