Feud Reveals The Dark Side Of Faux Feminism

Photo: Kurt Iswarienko/FX.
When we first enter the world of Feud, it’s clear we’re about to see two powerhouse actresses claw each other's throats out in the hopes of winning an Oscar. Yet, the first few minutes of the glitzy drama’s sophomore episode gives us a glimmer of feminist hope as Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) strikes up an alliance with mortal enemy Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon).
The problem is what happens next. The screen queens only team up in "The Other Woman" to toss out the pretty blonde actress playing the neighbor in Feud’s version of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane. The unnamed "cookie" (Kenzie Dalton) finds herself a target of Joan’s ire simply because she’s jealous of all the male attention following the newbie.
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That’s why Joan enlists Bette to support her firing plot. Both women think it’s only a matter of time before the ingenue begins sleeping with director Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) and subsequently "pulls focus" from her older co-stars.
Soon enough, the actress is walking off set, with a box in hand and tears streaming down her face. Co-conspirators Joan and Bette look on from the shadows, proud of their girl-powered coup.
When women decide to "take care of each other," as Joan puts it, it’s often seen as a positive, feminist partnership. But, Joan and Bette’s dark bonding moment shows the dangers of using "sisterhood" to defend possibly marginalizing behavior.
The actresses could have used their collective power to accomplish anything on set — like, say, scoring more female hires behind-the-scenes or demanding Robert doesn’t use his power to take advantage of the would-be-neighbor — but all they do is cause a young woman to lose her job.
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Not only is this awful for the up-and-comer, it also gives Bette and Joan’s male bosses a way to exploit them. After Robert and Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) realize the women are worried about Robert playing favorites, that’s exactly what the director does to keep his stars under his thumb.
The twisted scheme comes to it’s awful and on-theme end following a fight between Bette and her daughter B.D. (Kiernan Shipka). B.D. accuses her mother of "punishing her" for being young and beautiful. Bette calls Robert over for comfort and she ends up sleeping with him.
While Bette and Joan thought they were starting out on top in this episode, they actually end up being used once again by the men in their lives. Let's hope their next revenge plot is a little bit more pro (all) women.
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