TV Show Review – Feud

TV Show Review – Feud

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Rating:  4 (out of 5).  FX’s new series Feud, from Ryan Murphy, is about the famously combustible collaboration between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as they made the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Jessica Lange plays Crawford, and Susan Sarandon stars as Bette Davis with Stanley Tucci playing studio chief Jack Warner and Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.   Positive reviews with the Los Angeles Times calling it “addictive.”

Time calls this a “bonfire of vain biddies.” They say “Feud is so aware of the ways in which female rivalry works to the advantage of the men who run Hollywood that it seems, at times, to be operating at cross-purposes with itself.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks the first episode “Bette and Joan does have its campy moments, but this smart, alternately funny and sad series is more than camp.” They call it “Easily the best new series of 2017 so far,” saying it will “prove especially appealing to fans of old Hollywood and smart, layered storytelling.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer writes “Although often wickedly hilarious, “Feud” is a grand-opera Tinseltown saga laced with pain. It’s incredibly addictive fun, but, behind all of the snappish dialogue delivered with delicious venom, there is pain. There is damage. There is a deadly serious and deeply disturbing picture of how Hollywood treats women – particularly aging women who have dared to commit the cardinal show-business crime of getting older.”

The Saint Louis Post Dispatch states “Murphy grounds the campy humor of “Feud” in the deep pain of its two protagonists, leading us to laugh at the diva drama one minute and choke up at some poignant revelation the next. In eight episodes, portraits take shape that turn Hollywood legends into flesh-and-blood women, shaped by their own histories and by Hollywood misogyny in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.”

The New York Times thinks “The strength of “Feud” is how it shows you the dynamic that turns two ambitious artists into gossip-sheet caricatures. Its weakness is how it tells you, and tells and tells.” They say “The tone is sometimes camp, sometimes empathetic. Often it’s both, which is a defining mode of Mr. Murphy’s work: campathy.” But, it “ultimately succeeds because it respects the fierceness of its characters and the power of its actresses.”

USA Today describes it as an “entertaining, undemanding period piece.” They think “Feud is beautifully shot and easy to enjoy, but it isn’t quite compelling, and it never really sells the broader points it seems to be trying to make.”

The Washington Post calls it a “rapturously entertaining anthology.” They say “Feud more than delivers on Murphy’s promise to make this series a study in recent history’s great standoffs.”

Variety thinks “Feud’s delight in reenacting these moments outpaces its ability to prove why these reenactments matter” saying it is “ultimately caught in an awkward limbo — neither as brilliantly campy and hateful as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”

The Denver Post writes “Feud is quite serious beneath the delicious insults and backbiting. At times it treads dangerously close to polemic about the rude dismissal of women of a certain age, particularly in the film industry.”

The Hollywood Reporter states “if People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story felt like unexpected terrain for Murphy to mine, FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan is a perhaps more predictable fascination. The diva devotee’s undeniable passion for the material, plus a cast of almost gratuitous distinction, helps cover for a narrative that’s sometimes more juicy than weighty.”

Vanity Fair notes “It certainly provides heaping doses of diva scenery-chewing—from Sarandon and from her co-star Jessica Lange, playing Crawford as a booze-saturated, violently wilted flower. But there’s an actual humanity at work in the series, too.”

CNN thinks “Murphy’s limited series is an affectionate ode to old Hollywood, but also a pointed statement about the challenges faced by aging actresses for the past 60 years.” They say it is “impeccably and lavishly appointed, from the physical replication of the era to the wonderfully florid musical score (by Mac Quayle) and Hitchcock-ian main titles.”

The bottom line according to Newsday is “ Full of joy, humor, brilliant writing and performances, and a deep unabiding love for what really makes Hollywood great — the women.”

The Los Angeles Times notes “”Bette and Joan” isn’t as deep or all-encompassing as “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” but it’s addictive all the same.” They say “Watching these two powerhouse actresses play two powerhouse actresses who came before them is entertainment enough. The bitingly funny one-liners and the kitschy trimmings of yesteryear are delicious icing on this series, which shows how much the world has, and hasn’t, changed for powerful women and the men who fear them.”

The New York Post thinks this “wisely gives us the more vulnerable sides of both performers, who were alone in their 50s, having gone through a combined eight husbands by the time “Baby Jane” was completed.”

The Boston Herald thinks this “edges at times to camp but always veers back into meatier fare. The actresses both suggest the legends, but they aren’t doing impersonations.”

The Atlantic states “Its deft and satisfying first few episodes should please both the voyeurs and the feminists, and more importantly highlight how the two groups can overlap.”

The Oregonian tells viewers “Fans of classic Hollywood movies will love the meticulous production design, from Crawford’s plastic-covered furniture to the feathery hats sported by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.” But, “But if you have no idea who Hedda Hopper was, “Feud: Bette and Joan” probably won’t be as much fun.”

The Wall Street Journal writes “For all the campy craziness of Feud its message is one about the wrong people being mad at each other–a formulation with bottomless appeal and no end of examples.”

The Philadelphia Daily News states “Because as much soapy fun as Bette and Joan has with the pair’s over-the-top efforts to one-up each other, it’s also a smartly told tale of how sexism, ageism, and the old studio system helped turn two Oscar-winning actresses into bitter enemies.”

Entertainment Weekly notes “Murphy and his writers milk this tough history for compelling-enough melodrama. They’re clearly partial to Davis, but there’s enough empathy for both women to mitigate exploitation. 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.”

Las Vegas Weekly thinks “Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are clearly having a great time as Crawford and Davis, respectively, and the cast is full of big-name actors acting their hearts out, even in the small parts.” But they say “There isn’t really enough story here, though: The source material is an unproduced screenplay by Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam called Best Actress, which Murphy optioned and expanded into an eight-episode series.”

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