What I learned while watching Feud

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Image result for joan crawford                   Image result for bette davis

The FX Series Feud has been exciting viewers each episode with its first season which is centered around the famous battle between screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as they each try to regain their place at the top of the ladder in 1960s Hollywood. While the show does entertain with its actually very reflective of some very important issues. The fact that an actress’ career would be over by age 40 is actually quite shocking based on today’s standards where actresses like Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek, Viola Davis, and Lucy Liu all still have careers that have spanned two decades and more. However, in 1962 that was the rule. The series sheds light on two accomplished actresses who even though they hated each other are so much alike it is astonishing they never became friends. They both clawed their way to the top in their twenties. In their thirties they made some of their best work that students in filmmaking classes still study to this day. In their forties they began to fall off, and are soon treated like has-beens. In their fifties they each decide that it is time to prove all their detractors wrong. The series even touches on the private lives of the two screen queens. Joan Crawford is forever remembered as the coat hanger maniac in the movie Mommie Dearest. However, with Jessica Lange portraying Joan, we see a different version of the woman. She is a survivor of child abuse herself. Her mother has abandoned her, she is sexually abused by age twelve, and she has to clean up after her rich classmates to get an education. No wonder the woman was neurotic and difficult. Mommie Dearest is credited with bringing child abuse to the forefront of the national stage. Joan Crawford’s childhood should also be credited with bringing the effects of an abused child who never got help to the national stage. Bette Davis did not have an abusive background, however she was never told she was pretty. She always felt like she had to prove herself to compete with the pretty girls in Hollywood. She also made enemies by rejecting the Hollywood lifestyle, and by trying to bring more diverse roles other than the gangster’s girlfriend, or the smart-talking hooker that was available during that time. These two women really did change the industry. By daring to go against the rule, and play old sadistic sisters who hated each other, they proved you can be fifty and still open up a movie. They also proved that the abusive studio system could be beaten. They both were two different actors. Bette was an acclaimed actor who started in Broadway and brought life to the many characters she played. Joan was a movie star. She brought glamour to the screen while playing complicated characters that had the audience rooting for her in the end. It is sad that Bette and Joan hated each other. They represent a problem where it seems two women cannot be at the top of the ladder. Where two women as celebrated as them cannot be peers and still have a healthy competition. I believe these problems unfortunately still exist in the entertainment industry. We do love a good catfight. However, from watching this amazing show I am starting to realize that it is possible to not like another person, but you can still respect them in the end. I think that is what Bette and Joan could have done if outside forces were not prevalent. They really were the same person. I am glad to share in their story.


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