Feud: Bette and Joan Fans Lament the Meddling of Man and Publicity Machine

The second episode of Ryan Murphy's FX drama points fingers squarely at male interference for financial gain.

by | March 12, 2017 | Comments

Kenzie Dalton, Jessica Lange in Feud (FX)

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.

Spoiler alert: Do not keep reading if you haven’t watched the second episode of Feud yet.

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.

Crawford enlists Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) as an ally in getting the neighbor girl re-cast and in doing so, the two begin to form a bond.

“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.

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:

Susan Sarandon in Feud (FX)

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.

Alfred Molina in Feud (Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

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.

Unfortunately ―

Feud - Stanley Tucci (Kurt Iswarienko/FX)

Aldrich is not acting in either woman’s interest. And don’t even get us started on Warner.

Susan Sarandon herself summed the whole thing up quite nicely:

Some observers in the media, however, grumbled about the episode being all feud, no substance.

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.

Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sundays at 10/9C on FX

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