Feud: Bette and Joan (FX)
Premiered March 5 at 10pm
What won’t FX let Ryan Murphy do? This is now the third time the network has granted him the opportunity to create an anthology series intent on tackling different subjects and characters each season, and he shows no signs of letting up. His first, “American Horror Story,” has already been commissioned for an eighth and ninth season, and “American Crime Story” won so many awards for its first focus, “The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Now, he’s stepping away from an American title and simply centered on two people who really hated each other. This show strays from fictional products of nightmares and real-life lawyers to zoom in on 1960s Hollywood, in which two famous stars no longer receiving top billing in films of their choice come together to star in an epic horror film despite sharing a vile dislike of the other. What’s cool about this show is that it takes two Oscar-winning actresses, both close to seventy years old, and puts them in the classic parts of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. There are a few who would debate the talents of Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, and they’re all but guaranteed to compete for awards for these performances. Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, and Judy Davis also contribute plenty to the cast, and Kathy Bates and Catherine Zeta-Jones are present in special roles as well. Though I know this is sure to be one of the most talked-about series of the year, I’m not sure it’s one I want to commit to just yet, relatively moody and a bit dense for my tastes, but I know it will be regarded very highly since it is quite a work of art.
How will it work as a series? It’s been just one hour and production has already started on this film within a film, so more antics are sure to play themselves out as the drama gets even more intense, both on screen and between these two as they try to compete. It should be more than ample substance for soap, and I think that this series should do a great job portraying it.
How long will it last? This show was already renewed for a second season, set to focus on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, before it premiered, and a long future is all but assured. The ratings for the first episode were pretty good and the reviews have been excellent, and I have little doubt that most, me excepted, will stick with this show after tuning it for its debut installment.
Pilot grade: B