TV Review: “Feud: Bette and Joan” (2017 – ) ★★★★★

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. These two women have shaped the history of cinema. They brought the best of themselves into the craft and gave birth to characters that were immortalized. In addition to that, they had a special relationship which I do not recall if anyone else ever had… Maybe only Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland. In Ryan Murphy’s new anthology, Feud: Bette and Joan explore what does it mean being a star on Earth, sexism, ageism, not being needed anymore, and yet still strong enough to make the whole world hold its breath, while the two gracefully walk into the hall of fame.

Two living legends, Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange portray Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as we find two iconic actresses having their own way of surviving Hollywood. Bette Davis is on the stage, while Joan is in search of playing a perfect character. One day, when her maid, Mamasita (Jackie Hoffman)  brings on many novels, there is one which catches Crawford’s eye, and that was What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? When she offers the novel to director Robert Aldrich, she promises that she will find the best cast possible to play the second leading role… But who knew by then, that, that was another Goddess of Cinema – Bette Davis?

Olivia de Havilland (Catherine Zeta-Jones) says about Joan and Bette in the opening scene, “The feud was never about hate. The feud was always about pain. But this feud was not just a simple one. It was a feud of biblical proportion.”. When you go back to the title name, what else we all could have expected from them, if not the rivalry of biblical proportion? In the pilot episode we also find out that it was Joan’s idea to make a renowned movie and she suggests to offer the title role to Bette. Obviously, Bette did not mind to play the character, but Joan, you will find, was more pleased as long as its Ms. Davis who takes over the most vicious role.

As a person who watched What Ever Happened to Baby Jane multiple time and well aware of every single movie the two icons appeared in, it was a chilling feeling, and I guess funny as well to watch both of them on screen again, like if they were back from the dead. Oh yes, my dear reader, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon master their roles as if it was the last thing they would ever done. The scene when Susan Sarandon dresses up as Davis’ Jane will make you jump off your seat and maybe applaud. Jessica Lange’s Crawford is so alive that it’s almost like you are seeing a ghost with a physical body.

To say that there are many things told in the pilot episode, one thing was quite obvious, that Joan Crawford always admired Bette Davis. She considered her as one of the best actresses and always dreamt to work with her. While Bette Davis would never miss an opportunity to insult Joan in any way possible, but somewhere deep in her heart she knew that Joan is as great as Davis herself… it was just a matter of admitting it… Because in the world where the pedestal can belong to only one person, it happened that Joan and Bette lived in a timeline that had to find a way to share it… But if they would find that needed piece, then we would have left without Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Bette and Joan, because it is that good that you will feel grateful to both actresses for giving us an opportunity to admire them once again… through the masterpiece created by Ryan Murphy.

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