“Feud: Bette and Joan,” the first installment of new FX anthology series from Ryan Murphy that chronicles the tumultuous production of Oscar-nominated cult classic film “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” premieres on Sunday, March 5. Frequent Murphy collaborator Jessica Lange stars as Joan Crawford, with Susan Sarandon playing her nemesis Bette Davis. See the star-studded cast photos above, which boasts Alfred Molina as “Baby Jane” director Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as studio executive Jack Warner, Judy Davis as gossip writer Hedda Hopper, Kiernan Shipka as Davis’ daughter, with Catherine Zeta Jones, Sarah Paulson, and Kathy Bates making guest appearances. With such a stellar cast and prolific showrunner Murphy at the helm, do critics think the show lives up to its potential?
Thus far, “Feud: Bette and Joan” has received favorable reviews from critics, scoring 78 on MetaCritic and 88% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. Critics are even identifying parallels between “Feud” and Murphy’s last project “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” highlighting both as brilliant acting showcases and retrospective commentaries on contemporary society. As Gold Derby editor Marcus James Dixon writes in his review, “‘Feud’ hits a nerve by detailing stark realities for actresses that still exist today.”
The ensemble of legendary actresses that Murphy has assembled for “Feud” has received nothing less than stellar reviews. Jeff Jensen (EW) praises Lange as “heartbreakingly nasty as the fragile and toxic Crawford” and Sarandon, who “nails the stare, the stiffness, and the blazing, sexy intelligence of Bette Davis, humanizing her without sanding off the edges.” Sonia Saraiya (Variety) singles out Catherine Zeta Jones, who plays two-time Oscar-winner Olivia de Havilland, for delivering “the best turn in the show.” Similarly, Dave Nemetz (Yahoo) applauds Davis’ “firecracker” performance as Hopper. The male actors deliver, too, with Dominic Patten (Deadline) commending Tucci, who “chews up the small screen when he is on it.”
Do you think “Feud” will be a major Emmy contender? Check out some of the reviews below and post your own thoughts in our TV forums.
Daniel Fienberg (Hollywood Reporter): “Surely there is humor in the largesse, but there’s every bit as much sadness to what both women must go through to avoid sliding into the has-been abyss. Murphy and his leads have too much respect for these legends to let their conflicts become Dynasty-style cat fights, balancing the fun of behind-the-scenes shenanigans with the desperation the women were feeling.”
Liz Shannon Miller (IndieWire): “There are lines from ‘Feud,’ a show set decades in the past, which are still being echoed in 2017 — especially when uttered by men of power, whose ability to strip legendary women of their achievements by simple virtue of their age and gender remains infuriating.”
Jeff Jensen (EW): “Tart wit and top-production values abound, but there’s also a reserve in the filmmaking; it’s like Murphy wants to have fun with the material, but not too much fun for fear of being disrespectful. The writing continuously frames the Crawford-Davis feud in the context of a Hollywood culture that’s institutionally sexist and ageist… What grips you and holds you are the marvelous performances by huge stars of today playing huge stars of yesteryear.”
Dave Nemetz (Yahoo): “The decadent sets and costumes are dripping with old-Hollywood glamour, and it’s undeniably delicious to watch these two great actresses trade savage barbs back and forth like a pair of seasoned Wimbledon champs knocking a tennis ball around.”
Sonia Saraiya (Variety): “‘Feud’ has a handle on the spectacular, with its A-list performers and curiosity about the underbelly of silver-screen glamour. But in the five episodes sent to critics, it feels like a cheaper, smaller version of cinematic glory.”
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