Did Ryan Murphy take too much creative license for the ‘Feud’ finale?

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the season finale of Feud

I’m still waiting for the grief counselor to show up at my house to help me get past the fact that the first season of Feud is over. Ryan Murphy really struck gold, in my opinion, with his interpretation of the events that occurred during the filming of 1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and the relationship between stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford following the cult classic.

The season finale, entitled You Mean All This Time We Could Have Been Friends?, dealt primarily with the last days of Joan Crawford. The actress, desperate for work, took on a role as an anthropologist in the 1970 B-movie howler, Trog. Joan suffered the indignity of having to change costumes in a van and share the makeup area with a guy in a bad bigfoot costume. Post-Trog, Joan wrote a lifestyle book, My Way of Life, which offered helpful tips including telling ladies to sit in hard chairs because soft chairs make the hips spread. (I am taking that one to heart.) Seeing photos of herself in the newspaper that she felt were unflattering (most likely from the 1974 party she threw for friend and fellow actress Rosalind Russell), she left the limelight. She laid low until her death from cancer on May 10, 1977. Upon hearing the news of Joan’s death, Bette notoriously said, “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good…Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

Bette was also having trouble landing parts in Hollywood. She shot eight unsuccessful television pilots and even allowed herself to be the subject of a Dean Martin Roast. She and daughter B.D. Hyman had a falling out over Bette’s care of her grandkids and B.D. forbade her from taking them into her home again. Of course, B.D. went on to write a scathing book about her mother, My Mother’s Keeper – just in case you didn’t think Joan was the only one whose was immortalized in a nasty tell-all.

The pivotal and most talked-about scene in the finale was a laughter-filled get-together between Joan, Hedda Hopper (played by the wonderful Judy Davis), Jack Warner (played by the equally wonderful Stanley Tucci) and Bette. When left alone for a moment, Joan tells Bette she wishes she had been more generous to her and Bette wishes she had been a friend to Joan. Unfortunately, that conversation never occurred, it was Joan’s illness-induced hallucination. When asked about the scene, show creator Ryan Murphy told Entertainment Weekly that he learned that prior to her death, Joan 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….'” He went on to explain:

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.

[From Entertainment Weekly]

As for the significance of the title of the episode, Ryan told Variety, “I have always had a wistful dream that Bette and Joan could have watched this [show] together. I think that my favorite line from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is at the end of the film, when Jane tells Blanche, just as she is dying, ‘You mean all this time, we could have been friends?’ To me, that’s what the whole show is about.” And, when asked what he wanted the audience to take away from the series, Ryan said:

When I started it, for me, I was really interested in telling a story of women working against the system in Hollywood and shining a spotlight on sexism and misogyny and gender wage differences. But I think at the end of the day, the thing that I was so moved by was a personal one. I got into Bette Davis because of my grandmother. Bette Davis reminded me of my grandmother. That’s how I discovered her and started to write to her. At the end, Allison Wright’s character says, “Is your grandmother still alive?” and the interviewer says, “Yes.” And she says, “Call her.” I feel like for me, the whole show was a tribute to my grandmother and the difficulty of her aging as it is for any older person. So I feel like it was some weird tribute to my grandmother I didn’t know I was making until I was watching it. It was about my feelings about her, about how hard it is to grow old in our society and how hard it is particularly to be a woman growing old. You kind of become invisible, not just to society but sometimes your family. So I think that’s what it became.

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I am going to miss this show so much. I think Ryan’s creative touches made the show even more compelling. It leaves you with a lot to think about – how Hollywood (and society in general) perceives aging, it shows that fame and fortune doesn’t always buy happiness (Jessica Lange was tearing my heart out this episode. I have always been #TeamBette, but I really felt for Joan as the series went on). I’m not sure how Ryan can top this one, but he’s telling the Prince Charles and Princess Diana story for season two – which could prove interesting as well. I am curious to see how the Emmys are going to turn out this year. There are so many strong performances here. I think Jessica Lange is a shoo-in for a nomination and, if there’s an “Emmy God”, Jackie Hoffman should be getting a nod as well. With all of his upcoming projects, I’m sure no one is going to be asking “Whatever happened to Ryan Murphy?” anytime soon.

Feud: Bette and Joan FYC Event

Photos: Getty Images, WENN.com, Fame Flynet

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

29 Responses to “Did Ryan Murphy take too much creative license for the ‘Feud’ finale?”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Jamie42 says:

    Angry as I am with Susan Sarandon, I love her as Bette Davis. Great performance.

  2. LadyMTL says:

    There was a marathon of Feud on Sunday and I watched it all in one go and man, how amazing! I loved loved loved Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford; if she doesn’t get an Emmy I will be shocked. Susan Sarandon was very good as well, but IMHO didn’t have the emotional punch of Lange’s Crawford.

    I am mildly interested to see how Ryan Murphy handles Charles and Diana, but tbh the subject matter sort of bores me now.

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      I enjoyed the hell out of Feud and would love to see more stories of Old Hollywood. The royal family bores me to tears (including Diana, sorry), so I’ll definitely skip out next season.

      Judy Davis is everything!

      • Alison F says:

        Agree 💯! These women deserve every award, but will have stiff competition with the Big Little Lies cast this season. They were terrific and I loved the irony learning about Faye Dunaway too in the last episode.

  3. Mata says:

    Jessica killed it as Joan Crawford. I don’t know if I’ll even watch Charles and Diana. It’s been done so many times at this point. I wish he had stayed with the old Hollywood feuds. There are plenty of them. Since he already introduced Olivia De Haviland, he could do the feud she had with her sister.

    • Bazoo says:

      Exactly my thoughts. I originally boycotted the show because of Sarandon but my daughter kept telling me how good the show was and I soon got hooked. Jessica Lange was brilliant. Having been a fan of Crawford and Davis, I think Murphy’s attention to detail in the sets, costumes, etc. paid off in making this series one of best recreation efforts I’ve ever seen. Am not sure Charles and Diane will fare as well but at least we had the gem that was Joan and Bette. (And I’m also going to need a grief counselor now that the show has ended.)

  4. Jenni says:

    Feud and Big Little Lies are the best (so far) shows I’ve seen this year. The last episode of Feud was really sad and disturbing. We rarely get oportunity to watch stars behind the scene when they are “on the other site” – when they are old has-beens desprate for attention, love and youth. Shows like these remind me that you can’t have it all because there is always price to pay.

    • LAK says:

      I think it shows that you should know when to exit stage left.

      There is a long list of stars who exited stage left and lived or continue to live fulfilled lives even though they aren’t in the spotlight anymore eg Doris Day, Olivia de Havilland, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor etc

      It’s the ones that refuse to leave the stage that are subjected to (or risk) the humiliations and ignominy. And i include my favourite Debbie Reynolds in this latter group even though in her case, poor financial decisions played a part in that decision.

      • Neelyo says:

        My favorite disappearing act was Deanna Durbin. Huge musical star of the 30s and 40s who left the business while still on top and retreated to the French countryside never to return.

        She was friends with Judy Garland (they did a short film together as youngsters) and Judy called Deanna to rave about a recent concert she’d given. Deanna’s reply: ‘You’re still in that asshole business?’

      • Deering says:

        The ones who rely on stardom to quell their demons/ease unresolved trauma are the ones most at risk. Their life is fame, and they are too wrapped up in keeping it to get help, move on, and truly have a life. Result–when stardom goes, they have little else. That was Crawford’s tragedy.

  5. PettyRiperton says:

    Can’t support people I can’t stand not my style so I didn’t watch, next season I might. Way too many old Hollywood feuds to make seasons out of should’ve kept on with that but we’ll see how the next one turns out.

    • Nicole says:

      Same here. I’m a huge Murphy fan so I watch all his shows. This is the first I actively skipped because of Surandon. Next season I will tune in

  6. Zuzus Girl says:

    Ugh, I wish they would stick to juicy Hollywood stories and stear clear of the Royal family. It just feels exploitive and quite frankly, boring as hell. The Charles and Diane saga has been analyzed to death. I’d be more interested in the life long feud between Olivia de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine, or any number of other stories including male actors.

    • MaybeTomorrow says:

      Truth. It’s been overanalyzed in our lifetime. Give it a rest. Nothing new will come out of this for us.

  7. jugil1 says:

    I loved this show. Jessica Lange & Susan were so good. I also loved Kiernan Shipka as BD, Bette’s daughter. Jessica will definitely be nominated for an Emmy & Golden Globe.

  8. Forestlass says:

    Just like he did on American crime story… the lawyer his ex wife and kids were somehow more important than OJ’s own family!

  9. homeslice says:

    Amazing series!! I’m going to miss Bette and Joan so much. All the acting was top notch, but for me Jessica was everything in this. Everyone goes on and on about Meryl, who is a treasure, but Jessica has always had gritty roles that she just kills. As much as I cannot with SS, she did Bette justice. Judy, Stanley, Alfred all superb! This one will sweep Emmy, GG and SAGs.

  10. Why are people boycotting Susan Sarandon? Just curious lol!

  11. Bobby the K says:

    At the end they showed what happened to the principle actors, except Mamacita. Would have been nice, and to see what she really looked like etc.

    I also think Susan Sarandon did a great job of Bette. I don’t totally get all the hate either. The Dems should not have gone with Hillary in the first place, and i can’t believe a player in hollywood can have that much influence over an election.

    • homeslice says:

      I believe I read Mamacita was a composite…there was a Mamacita, but also different maids and assistants that came and went.

  12. Lady Rain says:

    Didn’t catch this series but I hope to soon. The ladies look great in these photos, Susan especially.

  13. my3cents says:

    Loved it!
    The performances were outstanding.
    Both Feud and Big Little lies really gave women , their voices and stories the center stage – which was compelling.
    Sad they have ended- looking forward to The Handsmaids tale.

  14. sassy says:

    I think I have an awesome idea for Ryan: do a whole season from the book “Hollywood Babylon”!!!!!!! I would so love that! More old Hollywood glamour! More scandals! What about a whole Hedda Hopper series????? Please!! The gay man inside me is farting rainbows of glitter over the thought!

  15. linda says:

    I love old Hollywood, everything about it including the clothes. I think Ryan Murphy should stick to old Hollywood stories. Not really interested in the Charles and Diana story.

  16. linda says:

    I’d like to see a story about Doris Day /Liz Taylor

  17. homeslice says:

    I have a Feud…Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. I’d love to see Woody’s coffin nailed shut.

  18. Nana says:

    I just came to say… I absolutely adored feud! Every episode was perfect. I plan to watch it again from the beginning!