Ryan Murphy‘s (Glee, American Horror Story, The People vs. OJ Simpson) much-anticipated new series Feud: Bette and Joan finally aired on FX last night. The series touches the famous feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Both women were portrayed in the less active acting-periods in their lives. Joan Crawford, played by Jessica Lange, is looking for a new Academy Award-worthy role but can’t find one that is deserving of her star status. Bette Davis, played by Susan Sarandon, is back on Broadway, playing a tiny role in Tennessee Williams’ Night of the Iguana.
When Crawford finds the novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, she urges Davis to play the part of Jane. That is where the story really started.
Both actresses completely owned their role. Sarandon modeled Davis’s walk and facial expression while Lange perfectly portrayed what Crawford felt towards Davis: respect mingled with envy.
What the story depicts in the background is the difficulties older women had in showbizz. While men age like fine wine (at least, that’s what they say), most women decline in superficial beauty during the ages. The current Hollywood scene has picked up that people don’t care that much anymore whether a woman is portrayed as beautiful and young, they just want to see meaningful stories and great performances.
That’s why someone like Meryl Streep can carry a movie on her own, and stars like Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange are still given important roles. Streep was once told that she wasn’t beautiful enough to play the lead actress in King Kong, and look where she is now, just being nominated for her twentieth Oscar.
People start caring more and more about the real deal, the acting. Which is a good thing, Hollywood shifting more to the feminist side of the spectrum. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford would have been amazed to see this happen, both actresses fighting for more interesting and stronger female leading roles.
For me, this first episode was a win. Amazing actresses, a good script and great cinematography always do it for me. Of course, Ryan Murphy never seems to disappoint, not again this time.
Kato Vander Sande is a Belgian Student in International Journalism | co-founder swimnation.be | book lover @Koekeloert