More Than Camp: Ryan Murphy’s FEUD Promises To Dig Deeper

The juicy tale of Joan Crawford vs Bette Davis isn't just ironic drag queen iconography, according to its showrunner.

Let’s be honest: if Ryan Murphy came out and said that Feud: Bette And Joan, a new series detailing the decades-long rivalry between Golden Age stars Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange), was nothing but 10 hours of low-hanging campy fruit, we’d probably still want to watch it.

The war between the two stars, sniping at each other over the years in an extended grudge match that made Katy Perry and Taylor Swift’s beef look like an adorable schoolyard spat, is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Davis once suggested that Crawford “slept with every male costar at MGM except Lassie.” DAYUM. When Davis was nominated for an Oscar for Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Crawford – Davis' co-star, mind you - vocally campaigned against her. ICE. COLD.

It’s on the set of that 1962 camp classic where Feud begins its narrative, and it’s where Crawford and Davis’ feud came to a desperate, ugly head, up to and including physical assault. At its basest level, it’s a bunch of catty, juicy nonsense between two faded drag queen icons, and hell yes we would watch that. But as EW reports in their cover story, showrunner Murphy is after something else:

“I wasn’t interested in just doing this broad, campy [show]…I was interested in the idea of sexism, ageism, misogyny. Turning 40, 45, 50 and feeling like you’re at the height of your powers and people saying, ‘Well, you’re done.’”

Preach. That’s a spectacular theme to explore with this story, and it makes us that much more excited for the series. Reasons for further excitement: an amazing supporting cast that includes Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland, Alfred Molina as Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? director Robert Aldrich, Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell, and Ryan Murphy MVP Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page. This thing’s gonna be legendary. 

UPDATE: Here's a very colorful teaser!

And here’s EW’s cover. Feud: Bette And Joan premieres Sunday, March 5th on FX. See you there.