What am I going to do now on Sunday nights without being able to watch Bette Davis and Joan Crawford go at it? I've been ending the weekend with these larger-than-life narcissistic nutjobs dancing through my thoughts the last eight weeks, and now what will I have to lull me to sleep before Monday morning? E! News says "unlike most finales, Feud went out with a whisper, not a bang." But what does E! News know?
Something tells me if the show were about two rich and powerful men who screwed each other over time and again, E! News wouldn't be calling the last episode "a whisper." Susan Sarandon did a fantastic job as the blunt and bitchy Bette Davis, and she had all the best lines, like:
I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire.
You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good!
For a drama queen like me, someone who likes actorliness, someone who prefers watching people melt down than exult in their own strength and self-confidence, Lange's part was juicier, subtler, more disturbing. Watching her twist around in agony and jealousy, and manipulate and fall apart and lash out and outsmart her rival only for it to always blow up in her face, was more rewarding, richer, and more devastating than watching Sarandon be brassy and mean and sure of herself.
That scene last night, the culminating moment of the series, where Joan Crawford is sitting at a table in front of candles, glamorous and calm, and Bette Davis, Jack L. Warner (Stanley Tucci), and Hedda Hopper (Judy Davis) are apologizing to her, and laughing, and Crawford is grateful and happy for once? And then it cuts to Crawford sitting by herself in the dark, delusional, her face and hair a mess, and it turns out she's just talking to herself, and her servant has to keep telling her that no one else is in the house?
It will be hard to get that scene out of my head.
People talked to creator Ryan Murphy about it, and here's what he had to say:
In our research, at the end of her life in the last month, we found evidence of people who knew her that Joan Crawford, who was very ill and dying of cancer, was having hallucinations where she was having imaginary conversations with people. So when we found that out, we were like, “Well wouldn’t it be great if she hallucinated…” Most old people, my grandmother for example, at the end of their lives talk about the good old days. So we thought we know that Joan was talking to people in her mind, and what if one of those people was Bette. I wanted to give the audience something that Joan and Bette actually did not have: a sense of closure. They talked about it individually, like “Oh I wish I would have handled it better.” But I thought what if they said that to each other’s face? Obviously that conversation never happened, but it could have happened in Crawford’s imagination. Also, it was inspired in part by the fact that Bette Davis said she had regrets. So I felt like I wasn’t putting words in her mouth. So that’s how that very long, great scene happened. It was based on the Crawford death research and what Bette Davis told me.
The second-to-last episode was amazing, too—the one directed by Helen Hunt:
That's the one with the blowup confrontation where Bette asks Joan what it was like to be the most beautiful woman in the world, and Joan says it was never enough. And Joan asks Bette what it was like to be the most talented actress in the world, and Bette says it was never enough.
Helen Hunt was asked by People about what drew her to the project—how much of it was her interest in exploring ageism and sexism?—and she said:
Yeah, certainly older actresses working was interesting, but mostly it's about people trying to be relevant, trying to stay relevant. You still want to make stuff and have a say. I certainly relate to that. I held onto that and I also held onto a thing in the pilot, which is what Catherine Zeta-Jones says: "Feuds are not about hate. They're about pain." I thought that was a very interesting thing to make something about and I think both Susan and Jessica did such a beautiful job of weaving in and out of those emotions.
Anyway, if you missed it, go catch up. Related: I can't wait for Feud: Charles and Diana.