Last month, as the Oscars approached, Camille Paglia took to the pages of the Hollywood Reporter to mourn the loss of “the mythic grandeur of old Hollywood and its pantheon of celestial stars.” Fortunately, their viciously overweening ambition, viperish appetite (and aptitude!) for malice and general capacity for epic bitchery is still with us in FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, producer Ryan Murphy’s loving miniseries homage to Hollywood harridans.
Bette and Joan, of course, are Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who for more than four decades were the Hatfields and McCoys of Hollywood, squabbling over men, money, roles and awards. Their scorched-earth war came to an end only with Crawford’s death in 1977 and Davis’ parting shot: “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good. … Joan Crawford is dead. Good.” Television critic Glenn Garvin examines Murphy’s latest, along with two much less interesting shows about time travel.