Before I dive into the finale of Feud, I thought y’all might enjoy this quote about the show from Olivia De Havilland who is 100 years old and living in Paris.
“I have received your email with its two questions,” De Havilland told the Hollywood Reporter in an email. “I would like to reply first to the second of these, which inquires of me the accuracy of a current television series entitled Feud, which concerns Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their supposed animosity toward each other. Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it. However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves. As to the 1963 Oscar ceremony, which took place over half a century ago, I regret to say that I have no memory of it whatsoever and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy.”
When things began to get more and more depressing about two seasons ago, it seems like the interest in discussing this show fell off. I’ve been recapping American Crime, which airs at the same time as this series and it is particularly distressing about the traumas occurring each day in this country. Every week the handful us who tune in to American Crime are hoping for someone’s stuggle to have a happy ending. Instead we get dead teenagers, drug overdoses, street justice, abusing the hired workers, and crooked groups that are supposed to help. There is one more week of that series and we have finally realized there is not going to be a pretty bow on that series. I don’t think we will have one on Feud either.
We start with the discarded Joan, sad and alone in her downsized apartment, with no Mamacita to boss around for company. This entire episode will focus on the mistreatment of women in Hollywood and how once beauty fades they are no longer a viable commodity. I suppose their glamorous lives make the fall more dramatic, but it is certainly not a plight lived only by movie stars. It’s the plight of women everywhere. The day comes for all when the dress doesn’t fit and social engagements are a bigger chore than simply staying home and scrubbing the floor. Then you do what you can. You get a dog, and if you are lucky, Mamacita returns to you, at least on a part-time basis.
And then your health goes. In Joan’s case she has severe gum disease, and needs dentures. She will not consent to dentures, it would make her look like Martha Raye, for christsake! The young dentist points out that at her age she needs to be worrying about her health, than her appearance. To which she replies, “I’ll stop worrying about how I look, when they dip me in formaldehyde.
Against everyone’s advice, Joan takes a small part in a low rent horror movie. It’s truly horrific. She requires cue cards and liquor. Lot’s of liquor. She’s also writing a lifestyle book via audio tape. It’s pretty depressing as well. The intertwining of the two projects serves to ratchet up the sadness.
Bette isn’t much better off. BD meets he mother for lunch. She remains married to her older man and has two boys. Her husband has gone home with the boys after Bette supposedly beat one of the boys for crying while in her care the previous nights. BD tells her that she needs to stop drinking and get herself together and then if she wants to see the boys she can visit them at their farm as long as she is supervised.
Then Bette who apparently turns down nothing at all during this time is the guest of dishonor at a Dean Martin roast. Why do people ever agree to this? She hasn’t had a drink in three weeks, but I have a feeling one is in her near future.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse, they do. Bette finds out at the same time we do that Joan has cancer. Even worse, Mommie Dearest is being written about Joan while she is fighting cancer. It seems the two adopted daughters loved Joan very much.
Since I am not familiar with the subject of this series, I was hopeful, expecting really, that the title of this episode would be about a reconciliation between Joan and Bette. I felt like Bette, who we see calling Joan and then hanging up before speaking, would at episode’s end show up to visit with Joan. And the title line would be delivered by one or the other of them.
Alas, what we get is a dream scene. Joan dreams that Jack Warner and Hedda Hopper, and Bette Davis are all in her apartment reminiscing about old times. There is a candelabra, martinis, and everyone is playing cards in their most elegant gowns, hair and makeup beat to the gods and back. It starts out with a lot of laughter from Hedda and Jack, but when Bette materializes she urges Joan to tell Hedda and Jack what they did to her. They don’t even pretend to care.
Hedda and Jack disappear to make drinks. Bette and Joan are left to themselves. They make up with each other and decide to have a glass of champagne. Joan calls for Mamacita, who arrives to find Joan hallucinating.
I’ve gotten up several times while writing this recap. I’ve open the window, I’ve closed the window, I’ve made coffee, I’ve taken the empty container of coconut milk to the trash can. I realize now that I am finding excuses to take a break from this episode. I had heard it was difficult to watch. But this is really depressing. Especially on the second, drab, rainy day in a row. I’m fifty-nine minutes in and it look there is a lot of time, around twenty minutes left. I am praying that the end is all teaser for some other program. Because I can’t take another twenty minutes of this.
She died a week later. Someone please tell me that Bette didn’t say that horrible quote about Joan.
Bette goes to visit her disabled daughter and regaled her with false memories of her life.
The worst part of the Academy Awards, and there are plenty of bad parts these days, but the worst part is the In Memorium segment. We endured that segment of the 1978 season where Joan was on the screen of a brief second or two in between a bunch of men.