Feud (TV series)

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Feud
Feud: Bette and Joan in white on crimson background
Intertitle from Bette and Joan
Genre Historical period drama
Anthology
Docudrama
Created by
Starring
Composer(s) Mac Quayle
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 8 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Jaffe Cohen
  • Renee Tab
  • Michael Zam
  • Jessica Lange
  • Susan Sarandon
Production location(s) Los Angeles, California
Cinematography Nelson Cragg
Editor(s)
  • Andrew Groves
  • Adam Penn
  • Ken Ramos
Running time 45–58 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Release
Original network FX
Original release March 5, 2017 (2017-03-05) – present
External links
Website

Feud is an American anthology television series for FX created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam, presented as the dramatization of actual events. It premiered on March 5, 2017.

The first season, which consists of eight episodes, is subtitled Bette and Joan and chronicles the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

In February 2017, FX renewed the series for a 10-episode second season. Originally titled Charles and Diana, referring to Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, the season was later renamed Buckingham Palace. In August 2018, it was announced that Buckingham Palace had been scrapped.

Summary[edit]

The first season, titled Bette and Joan, centers on the backstage battle between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?[1]

Cast and characters[edit]

Bette and Joan[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Historical figures[edit]

Feud features appearances by a number of actors, directors and other historical figures of the period, including:

Episodes[edit]

Season 1: Bette and Joan (2017)[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
US viewers
(millions)
1"Pilot"Ryan MurphyJaffe Cohen & Michael Zam and Ryan MurphyMarch 5, 2017 (2017-03-05)1WBB012.26[2]
With her film career waning, Joan Crawford pitches an adaptation of the horror novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? to director Robert Aldrich and rival actress Bette Davis. Aldrich, in turn, brings Baby Jane to Jack L. Warner, who comes on board despite his hatred for both actresses. But as filming begins, Crawford's acute narcissism and Davis' strong opinions quickly put them at odds.
2"The Other Woman"Ryan MurphyJaffe Cohen & Michael Zam and Tim MinearMarch 12, 2017 (2017-03-12)1WBB021.32[3]
Bette and Joan act on their shared interest to eliminate a showy supporting actress, but their problems at home spill over at work and force Aldrich into the middle of the power play between them.
3"Mommie Dearest"Gwyneth Horder-PaytonTim MinearMarch 19, 2017 (2017-03-19)1WBB031.08[4]
Bette and Joan learn some intimate details about each other, but their animosity climaxes on set as filming winds down.
4"More, or Less"Liza JohnsonGina Welch & Tim MinearMarch 26, 2017 (2017-03-26)1WBB041.21[5]
Contrary to all expectations, Baby Jane is a huge hit. With no other film offers coming in, Joan's jealousy grows as Bette's performance is critically acclaimed. She fears that she will not get an Oscar nomination, but that Bette will. Meanwhile, Pauline hopes to direct her own film, but is discouraged by the lack of support from both Aldrich and Joan.
5"And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)"Ryan MurphyRyan MurphyApril 2, 2017 (2017-04-02)1WBB051.36[6]
Bette is on track to win a record-breaking third Best Actress Oscar. Joan and Hedda launch a clandestine campaign against her. Joan persuades nominee Geraldine Page to skip the ceremony and allow Joan to accept the award on her behalf if she wins; Anne Bancroft, unable to attend, also allows Joan to accept her award. Offering herself as a presenter, Joan arrives dressed like a "silver Oscar". With a crushed Bette watching, Joan accepts the Oscar for Bancroft.
6"Hagsploitation"Tim MinearTim Minear & Gina WelchApril 9, 2017 (2017-04-09)1WBB061.06[7]
As Joan promotes her new film, Strait-Jacket, Jack enlists Aldrich to write and direct a new film in the successful "Hagsploitation" genre. Aldrich ultimately takes his script, called What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?, to Darryl F. Zanuck to produce. Aldrich is able to lure Joan in return for top billing, and Bette in return for creative control. Bette becomes increasingly unreasonable, and Joan's suspicions about Bette's influence over Aldrich are confirmed when Joan hears Bette having a bottle of champagne with him.
7"Abandoned!"Helen HuntJaffe Cohen & Michael ZamApril 16, 2017 (2017-04-16)1WBB071.31[8]
On location filming Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Joan feels disrespected by the production, and comes to resent Bette's creative input as a producer. When filming returns to Los Angeles, Joan fakes an illness to stall filming in hopes that 20th Century Fox will cancel the film. She eventually learns that the studio is suing her for breach of contract, and while in the hospital learns via radio announcement that she has been replaced by Olivia de Havilland.
8"You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?"Gwyneth Horder-PaytonGina WelchApril 23, 2017 (2017-04-23)1WBB081.30[9]
Following the critical failure of her latest film, Trog, Joan officially retires from acting. In the years following, her health deteriorates rapidly. One night, Joan hallucinates seeing Jack and Hedda in her apartment having a party, where she joins them and is later joined by Bette. In the fantasy, Joan and Bette end their feud and speak civilly toward each other about one another. Joan dies a week later. Meanwhile Bette, who has worked consistently since Sweet Charlotte, learns of Joan's death via a journalist who asks for comment. Bette responds with one final negative comment towards Joan. At that year's Academy Awards, Bette expresses sadness at Joan's brief appearance in the 'In Memoriam' segment. A flashback to the very first day of filming Baby Jane shows Bette and Joan chatting happily before going into their separate trailers.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Ryan Murphy, a fan of Davis since his childhood, interviewed the actress just months before her death in 1989. The agreed-upon 20-minute interview lasted four hours, and inspired his characterization of Davis in Feud. He said, "When I would ask her about Joan Crawford ... She would just go on about how much she hated her. But then she would sort of say ... 'She was a professional. And I admired that'."[10] Murphy first conceived Bette and Joan as a film years before the FX series, and approached both Sarandon and Lange about the lead roles.[11] Sarandon said, "It just felt like it didn't have a context, just being bitchy and kind of funny, but what else? In expanding it to eight hours, you could get more complexity and so many other characters."[12] Season 1 of Feud was being written at the same time that Murphy was forming his Half Foundation, which promotes an increased presence of women in film and television production positions.[12] The season features 15 acting roles for women over 40,[12] and half the episodes were directed by women, including Helen Hunt.[11]

Feud, developed by Murphy, was picked up to series by FX on May 5, 2016.[13] Season 1's Bette and Joan is inspired by the real-life feud between Crawford and Davis,[13] and explores issues of sexism, ageism, and misogyny in Hollywood.[12] Its eight episodes were expanded from a feature-length screenplay Murphy had optioned called Best Actress by Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam.[14]

Sarandon said, "In our story, it was a fact that [the people behind Baby Jane] encouraged the animosity [between Crawford and Davis], first of all to control them, second of all to make what they thought was more onscreen tension, and that really hasn't changed a lot."[12] Melanie McFarland of Salon wrote that the series shows "just how brutal the Hollywood system was on some of the greatest talents in its firmament" and that it "cuts to the root of why collaborating and delighting in the fall of the mighty is eternally marketable."[15] The Crawford-Davis feud was also documented in Shaun Considine's 1989 book Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud.[16]

On February 28, 2017, FX renewed the series for a 10-episode second season, subtitled Charles and Diana. The season was to center on the relationship between Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, with Murphy and Jon Robin Baitz attached as writers and executive producers.[17] It was later renamed Buckingham Palace.[18] On August 3, 2018, it was announced that plans for Buckingham Palace had been scrapped, but that Murphy still intends to do further cycles of Feud.[19]

Casting[edit]

Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon were attached to star as Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Judy Davis, and Dominic Burgess were also a part of the cast, in the roles of Robert Aldrich, Jack L. Warner, Hedda Hopper, and Victor Buono, respectively.[13]

In August 2016, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sarah Paulson joined the cast playing Olivia de Havilland and Geraldine Page, respectively.[20][21][22][23]

In September 2016, it was reported that American Horror Story executive producer Tim Minear would be co-showrunning the series with Murphy. Jackie Hoffman joined the cast as Mamacita, Crawford's housekeeper.[24] In November 2016, Molly Price, Kathy Bates and Alison Wright joined the cast of the series, in the roles of Harriet Foster, Joan Blondell, and Pauline Jameson.[25][26][27] In January 2017, it was announced Kiernan Shipka was cast in the series as Davis's daughter, Barbara "B.D." Sherry.[28]

Sarandon admitted to initially being "overwhelmed and terrified" about the prospect of portraying Davis accurately. She said, "She's so big and she really was so big, so I tried not to make her a caricature or someone a female impersonator would do ... That was my fear, that she would just be kind of one-dimensional."[12] Lange said her performance was informed by her view that Crawford's "brutal childhood" was masked by the "beautiful, impenetrable veneer of this great, gorgeous movie star ... So she was always on, which is a tremendous burden in and of itself, but always there was this thing lurking underneath of being this poverty-stricken, abused, unloved, abandoned young child and woman."[12] Both Sarandon and Lange researched their roles by reading books by and about Davis and Crawford, and watching and listening to TV performances and recordings.[11][28]

Release[edit]

Marketing[edit]

Murphy gave several interviews about Bette and Joan during the 2017 Winter TCA Press Tour.[29] The show's first teaser trailer was released on January 19, 2017, and the second the following day.[30] That same week, Lange and Sarandon appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as Crawford and Davis.[31] FX released another teaser on January 23, two on February 5, one on February 7, and one on February 8.[32][33][34][35][36] A short commercial for the show also aired during Super Bowl LI.[37]

Premiere[edit]

Bette and Joan had its official premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on March 1, 2017.[38] Before the show's premiere, FX held screenings of the pilot episode at several gay bars across the United States.[39]

Broadcast[edit]

The first season of eight episodes, Bette and Joan, premiered in the United States. on March 5, 2017,[40] and on BBC Two in the United Kingdom. on December 16, 2017.[41]

Controversy[edit]

On June 30, 2017, a day before her 101st birthday, actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit against the series for inaccurately portraying her and using her likeness without permission in Feud: Bette and Joan.[42] The lawsuit states that the pseudo-documentary-style of the series leads viewers to believe that the statements made by the actress portraying de Havilland in the show are accurate, but that in fact de Havilland had not said such things in real life.[43] The various defendants filed a motion to dismiss under California's "anti-SLAPP" law. The trial court denied the motion but, on March 26, 2018, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, reversed the decision and ordered the lawsuit dismissed. The Court of Appeal further ruled the defendants were entitled to be reimbursed their attorneys' fees.[44]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The first season of Feud received highly positive reviews, with major praise for Lange and Sarandon's performances. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 91% based on 84 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While campily and sweetly indulgent, Feud: Bette and Joan provides poignant understanding of humanity, sorrow, and pain while breezily feeding inquisitive gossip-starved minds."[45] On Metacritic, the season has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[46]

Melanie McFarland of Salon called the writing "creatively wicked" and the series "outrageously fantastic", praising Lange and Sarandon for their performances and for "tempering their decadent rages and vengeful spats with a gutting sense of loneliness that tempers its lightness in solemnity."[15] Verne Gay of Newsday wrote that the series is "Full of joy, humor, brilliant writing and performances, and a deep unabiding love for what really makes Hollywood great—the women."[47] People called the series "bitter, biting and entertaining".[48] The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber described the first few episodes as "deft and satisfying" but suggested that "maybe six installments, rather than eight, were all this tale needed".[49] Alan Sepinwall of Uproxx wrote that the series is "big and it's catty, but it's also smart and elegant, with the old Hollywood setting toning down some of Murphy's more scattershot creative impulses."[50] Emily Nussbaum, in The New Yorker, praised Murphy's ambition and lauded both stars, saying of the series, "Beneath the zingers and the poolside muumuus, the show's stark theme is how skillfully patriarchy screws with women's heads—mostly by building a home in there."[51]

Not all reviews were positive. Sonia Saraiya of Variety compared Bette and Joan unfavorably to Murphy's The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, writing that Feud is "neither as brilliantly campy and hateful as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? nor as contextualizing and profound as People v. O. J. Simpson."[14] David Weigand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the series a mixed review, criticizing the script and Lange's performance, but praising Sarandon's, writing: "Lange is always interesting, but she’s only occasionally convincing here as Crawford. The voice is too high, for one thing. Sarandon fares better, as much good as that does with such a lousy script."[52] The Guardian also criticized the series for being "lightweight", noting, "At just eight episodes, there’s almost too much to cover and at times, one craves a little more depth to certain moments." They singled out Lange's performance, however, writing, "Lange in particular moves past just an easy impression to something with far more weight. In a reversal of fortune that would make Crawford cackle in her grave, it’s likely that she’ll be the one up for awards at the end of the year rather than her co-star."[53]

Ratings[edit]

The first episode drew 2.26 million live-plus-same-day viewers, which Deadline.com characterized as "solid" and made it the most watched program on FX that week. In comparison, the premiere of The People v. O. J. Simpson attracted 5.1 million viewers in 2016, and the FX limited series Fargo got 2.66 million in 2014.[2][54] The premiere earned 3.8 million viewers in the Nielsen live-plus-three-days ratings, and 5.17 million viewers total when including two encore broadcasts, making it the highest rated new series debut on FX since The People v. O. J. Simpson.[55][56]

No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "Pilot" March 5, 2017 0.5 2.26[2] 0.4 1.54 0.9 3.79[57]
2 "The Other Woman" March 12, 2017 0.3 1.32[3] 0.4 1.46 0.7 2.78[58]
3 "Mommie Dearest" March 19, 2017 0.3 1.08[4] 0.4 1.46 0.7 2.54[59]
4 "More, or Less" March 26, 2017 0.3 1.21[5] 0.3 1.33 0.6 2.54[60]
5 "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)" April 2, 2017 0.4 1.36[6] 0.3 1.40 0.7 2.76[61]
6 "Hagsploitation" April 9, 2017 0.3 1.06[7] 0.3 1.28 0.6 2.34[62]
7 "Abandoned!" April 16, 2017 0.4 1.31[8] N/A 1.36 N/A 2.67[63]
8 "You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?" April 23, 2017 0.3 1.30[9] 0.3 1.37 0.6 2.68[64]

Accolades[edit]

Association Category Nominated artist/work Result Ref.
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Limited Series Feud: Bette and Joan Nominated
Best Actress in a Movie/Limited Series Jessica Lange Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Limited Series Alfred Molina Nominated
Stanley Tucci Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Limited Series Judy Davis Nominated
Jackie Hoffman Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Feud: Bette and Joan Nominated [65][66]
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Jessica Lange Nominated [67][68][69]
Susan Sarandon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Alfred Molina Nominated [70]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards[71] Main Title Theme – TV Show/Limited Series Mac Quayle Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards[72] Outstanding Limited Series Feud: Bette and Joan Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Jessica Lange Nominated
Susan Sarandon Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Alfred Molina Nominated
Stanley Tucci Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Judy Davis Nominated
Jackie Hoffman Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Ryan Murphy (for "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special Jaffe Cohen, Ryan Murphy, and Michael Zam (for "Pilot") Nominated
Ryan Murphy (for "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)") Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Eric Dawson and Robert J. Ulrich Nominated
Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series, or Movie Lou Eyrich, Hannah Jacobs, and Katie Saunders (for "And the Winner Is... (The Oscars of 1963)") Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie Chris Clark, Ralph Michael Abalos, Wendy Southard, and Helena Cepeda Won
Outstanding Main Title Design Ryan Murphy, Alexis Martin Woodall, Kyle Cooper, Nadia Tzuo and Margherita Premuroso Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Eryn Krueger Mekash, Robin Beauschense, Tym Buacharern, Kim Ayers, Becky Cotton, and David Williams Won
Outstanding Main Title Theme Music Mac Quayle Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Mac Quayle (for "Pilot") Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Judy Becker, Jamie McCall and Florencia Martin Nominated
Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series Feud: Bette and Joan: Inside Look Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Jessica Lange Nominated
Susan Sarandon Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards[73] Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Feud: Bette and Joan Nominated
Individual Achievement in Drama Jessica Lange Nominated
Susan Sarandon Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards Television Movie or Limited Series Judy Becker (for "Pilot", "And the Winner Is…", "You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?") Nominated [74]
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Original Jaffe Cohen, Tim Minear, Ryan Murphy, Gina Welch, Michael Zam Nominated [75]
Producers Guild of America Awards David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Feud: Bette and Joan Nominated [76]
ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited Mini-Series or Motion Picture for Television Adam Penn and Ken Ramos (for "Pilot") Nominated [77]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Period Television Series Lou Eyrich Nominated [78]

References[edit]

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