‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Review: An Old Hollywood Tale of Rivalry That Ends Up Being Disappointing 

‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Review: An Old Hollywood Tale of Rivalry That Ends Up Being Disappointing 

Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) /via IMDB

Ryan Murphy is a TV genius and no one can take that away from him. With creations like Nip Tuck, American Horror Story, American Crime Story and even Glee, he’s managed to keep us entertained with almost everything he churns out. But even geniuses have their slip moments, and this might be it for Mr. Murphy. 

Feud is based on the age old rivalry between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) that developed during the filming of their 1962 gothic horror movie ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’. The intent with the new show is golden. Old Hollywood was a surefire way of making great TV, and no one is really doing it right now so it should have been an obvious win. But if we’re being honest, the writing falls short of anything mind-blowing. The first episode doesn’t manage to capture the intensity that surrounded these two stars. It came of as a classic example of having two great actors that couldn’t do much to save the episode due to a subpar script.

Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford /via IMDB

The pilot feels a bit too manufactured in the sense that the story clearly shows the showrunners did their research on the two ladies, but haven’t managed to bring it out in the best way yet. I felt like I was watching a documentary about the Davis-Crawford feud and not what the series is intended to be.  The episode focuses on Joan for the first 15 minutes or so. We’re introduced to her life as an Academy Award actress, which she doesn’t let us forget throughout the 50 minute runtime by the way, and how she hadn’t starred in anything for about 2 years. She now has a fire inside that she needs to quench by getting back to the big screen! She gets an offer to do the movie adaptation of the book ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ and doesn’t pass it up. She even suggests Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) as her co-star but soon starts regretting the decision when the director and studio give Davis better perks: a better dressing room and better pay just to name a few.  

Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis /via IMDB

Jessica Lange is an amazing actress, to say the least. Her performance in the pilot was satisfactory but she’s definitely had stronger moments in American Horror Story.  Susan Sarandon comes off as the stronger character in the pilot however. Her acting is stupendous, and her character, Bette, comes off as the antagonist of the series which I always seem to have a bias opinion of in almost everything I watch. 

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Feud is an okay show. Definitely something you should check out but not something assured to leave you wanting more. I was especially excited to watch this show because I’m a big Ryan Murphy fan, and maybe it’s because of this excitement that I found the pilot a little underwhelming, especially when you compare it to other shows he’s done like American Horror Story and American Crime Story.  The show definitely deserves a nod for doing this genre at a time when everyone else is focused on zombies and vampires but that’s about it. 




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