For the NY Times: ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Episode 7 Recap: Feminism 101

My re-cap of the 7th episode of Feud: Bette and Joan is now up at the New York Times. One more episode to go!

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11 Responses to For the NY Times: ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Episode 7 Recap: Feminism 101

  1. Stevie says:

    This is spectacularly written, Sheila! Wow. I am in love with the writing. Your point of view is so clean. And I totally agree with you that this binary BS is a contrivance.

    • sheila says:

      Stevie – thank you my friend!!

      and yeah, right? Bette Davis crying that some guy didn’t think she was pretty 40 years ago? With 11 Oscar nominations under her belt or whatever it was? I just don’t buy it. She was in her 50s. She knew who she was.

      Men sometimes don’t get this. I don’t want to assign malevolent motives – because I think everyone is very well-meaning here – but sometimes men think we are so upset about not being attractive to them that it ruins our whole lives. and these “allies” feel sad for us about this – not realizing that they are helping to PERPETUATE the fiction that looks really really matter. I mean, of course, looks matter, and we all are penalized if we don’t line up with the cultural norm.

      but I think in this case – turning it into a “Bette wanted what Joan had and Joan wanted what Bette had” is not just an over-simplification – it’s not just true. Have you read my friend Dan’s piece? He’s been killing it. He basically said, “Having an enemy can be very inspiring artistically. Some people are born to be enemies.” I’ll find the link – he said it much better.

      The way it’s set up in Feud is kind of buying into that whole “Oh you’re just jEALOUS” thing that women (mostly) do to one another. The reality was way more complex!

  2. Desirae says:

    It seems odd to me that the show has a fixation on Bette coveting Joan’s (admittedly magical) beauty when she was young. Pretty much right off the bat she showed a willingness or even an eagerness to throw glamour to the wind. Of Human Bondage, anyone? I can more understand Joan being sad that she’s lost it, and along with it a lot of her star power in Hollywood.

    • sheila says:

      // Pretty much right off the bat she showed a willingness or even an eagerness to throw glamour to the wind. Of Human Bondage, anyone? //

      I totally agree. I think Bette knew why she got into acting, didn’t understand the focus on beauty, and immediately set about trying to get the career she wanted.

      Of course who wouldn’t want to be the most gorgeous person in the room, but I don’t think Bette dwelled much on that. She was far too busy having an awesome career.

      It’s weird.

  3. Desirae says:

    But I guess it’s interesting that people are now acknowledging just how stunning Crawford was – for a long time it seemed like she was… remembered as not having been, or something?

    • Jane says:

      I think you make an interesting point. When I was growing up, Crawford was not singled out for her attractiveness. And I must have seen Carol Burnett’s parody sketch a half dozen times before I ever saw Mildred Pierce. So in my mind, I had not associated Crawford with beauty the way I would have done with Gene Tierney or Myrna Loy.

      • sheila says:

        There was always something a little … forbidding about Joan? Those giant shoulder-pads for one. She didn’t have the melting softness of, say, Garbo … she always played these tough ladies with grit, determination – but she was sexy too. Early on, she did all those movies with Clark Gable and they’re so good together – but – my friend Mitchell pointed out – in those movies, Joan is so strong that Gable is forced into the feminine role (stereotypically) – chasing after her – and it’s very hot, but maybe that’s why she’s not perceived as being the great beauty that she obviously was? Because she was too “strong”? Or somehow not as … giving …?

        It’s interesting. She was so unique.

    • sheila says:

      Desirae – I know! I’ve been thinking the same thing!

      Honestly I think when people remember Joan (those who don’t know her work, I mean), they are remembering Faye Dunaway, and not Joan.

  4. Jane says:

    Funny, but when I watched the first episode, I didn’t expect to get so wrapped up in the show and to find myself feeling sorry that it’s ending. For me, this is all down to the power of the performances. I completely agree that the side plot of BD’s marriage seemed unnecessary.

    Thank you, Sheila, for the background on Cukor in your recap. I love knowing a bit more of the history.

    What did you think of the actor they cast as Joseph Cotton? I was disappointed, but I think I might be too picky. These stars loom larger than life in my memory, and my expectations are probably too high. On the other hand, I am enjoying Dominick Burgess’s performance.

    • sheila says:

      Jane – I think I was too picky too in re: Cotten. It feels to me like Cotten was taller than that actor – leaner, maybe? I do think he had the right face, though – a face that suggested Cotten. Dominick Burgess is great – I was so moved by how moved HE got remembering Joan in Humoresque.

      I am very sorry we didn’t get to see more of Agnes Moorehead, either! She is so NUTS in “Charlotte” – I wouldn’t envy ANYONE who had to re-create that performance!

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