Tuesday, 25 April 2017

''Feud: Bette and Joan''- Review

''Feud'', created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam, is an anthology TV series that airs on FX.''Bette and Joan'' is the first season of ''Feud''. Consisting of eight episodes, it premiered on March 5, 2017 and the season ended on April 23, 2017.

I started watching the season rather whimsically: I had loved the movie ''What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?'' (I watched it just last year) and as such the concept really intrigued me: eight episodes about the rivalry and feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. That did sound interesting.

Well, the season turned out to be much more than interesting. It turned out to be GREAT, simply GREAT, and when I say great, I mean it.

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had tensions from the 1930s, but these tensions turned into a feud when they started filming the one film that they starred in together: ''What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?''. The season follows their feud from the time they starred in Baby Jane together.

The season portrayed not just the rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis but it also dealt with such issues as the problems that women had to face in Hollywood back then, the problems and struggles faced by directors, how other people fueled the rivalry between the two actresses and so on.

Yes, the season started in a rather entertaining way. There were little jokes and lightness all along. However, in spite of the humor and witticisms found in the early episodes, the season dealt with issues very serious and real. Be it the problems faced by aging stars like Crawford and Davis, or the problems faced by directors like Robert Aldrich who aspired to make great films but due to the whims of the studios had to stick to 'B' movies, or the problems faced by people like Pauline Jameson (the only major fictional character in the season) who wanted to make something of themselves in Hollywood but the overall system would not allow them to do so. It was very, very thought-provoking and very informative as well.

I never imagined that the season would turn out to be so deep, so rich. Over the course of the episodes the development of the characters became so excellent, all the major characters, as well as the supporting ones, became richly developed. 

The season portrayed both its protagonists, Joan Crawford (played by Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (played by Susan Sarandon) in sympathetic and excellent ways. We can understand exactly why they behave the way they do, we can understand exactly why they do what they do. There are times we applaud for them, there are times we feel extremely melancholy and sad for them, there are times we do not approve of their actions but know just why they are doing so.

The supporting characters great, really great: Mamacita (Joan's loyal housekeeper, played by Jackie Hoffman), Hedda Hopper (prominent film columnist, played by Judy Davis), Pauline Jameson (Robert Aldrich's assistant who is ambitious to make something of herself in Hollywood, the only fictional major supporting character in the season, played by Alison Wright), Olivia de Havilland (the graceful two-time Oscar winning actress, played by Catherine-Zeta Jones), Robert Aldrich (the struggling director of Baby Jane, played by Alfred Molina), Jack Warner of the Warner Brothers (played by Stanley Tucci), and Victor Buono (who played a supporting character in 'Baby Jane' and later became a close friend of Bette's, played by Dominic Burgess).

These supporting characters are also, over the course of the season, developed with such care that you cannot but appreciate the character development. I loved and grew very attached to some of the characters. I am pretty sure that most fans of the season would name Mamacita as their favorite supporting character. I would agree with that. I never imagined that Mamacita would become such a pivotal character in the season. I loved her so very much.

Apart from that, Pauline Jameson was also a very interesting character. Although a fictional character, the character reflected the struggles faced by a woman in Hollywood, particularly the Hollywood of those days. I loved Olivia too, she was so supportive of Bette. Catherine Zeta-Jones gave a really excellent performances as Olivia. If I am asked to name my three favorite supporting characters from the season, I would definitely name Mamacita, Pauline and Olivia.

This was a great season. I felt so sad saying goodbye to it. I loved each of the eight episodes. I will not be exaggerating a bit when I say that the last episode made me burst into tears. It had me in tears several times, particularly in the last few scenes. It was so heartbreaking, so raw, so emotionally enriched. The first seven episodes did such a great job developing the characters that the emotionally charged last episode made it impossible for me to control my tears. And I mean it.

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