Feud Used The C-Word Last Night & Totally Got Away With It

Photo: courtesy of FX.

Last night, audiences got a very special treat during the premiere of Feud: Bette and Joan. Yes, there was plenty to love between the lush sets, amazing costumes, and performances from Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. But like a cocktail to the face, Feud threw out the C-word, something that rarely happens on TV.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the c-word isn't used even on premium channels like HBO — save Sex and the City, which did used the term before. That makes it even more surprising that it happened on FX, a basic cable channel. How did FX manage to slip the term past censors and the like? Marie Claire credits the fact that Feud has a very special time slot — 10 p.m. — which is how it managed to get away with it. The FCC has strict rules governing language on broadcast shows, but the regulations are laxer for cable networks like FX. Plus, the show came with a TV MA-L warning.

"We felt that it wasn't gratuitous," Feud showrunner Tim Minear told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was gratuitous coming from the mouth of the character, but it wasn't gratuitous in terms of the story that we're telling. One well-placed epithet like that is like a bracing, toss of cold water in the audience's face, and it says something. Not if you're dropping it every five seconds. So that's why it's there; it's there because that's the ugly soul that we're exposing a little bit."

For anyone who didn't tune in to the show's premiere, Stanley Tucci plays a pretty slimy studio chief, Jack Warner. During an exchange with Alfred Molina's character, Robert Aldrich, Warner calls Davis a "cunt." They're talking about distributing the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

The fact that Ryan Murphy is at the reigns probably has something to do with it, too. FX has basically given him total freedom, which resulted in Sarah Paulson's Marcia Clark using the word "motherfucker" in American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

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