If you're familiar with ripped-from-the-headlines fare, you know that anything "based on a true story" should be taken with a grain of salt. There are shows that are so loosely rooted in reality that they barely resemble the original story, and then there are those whose teams pore over meticulous research and exhaustive interviews to keep things as factual as possible. Fortunately, Hollywood's latest life-to-screen retelling falls into the latter camp, because Ryan Murphy says Feud is surprisingly accurate and for more reasons than one.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the showrunner said that, while they did take some creative liberties, the series — which follows the infamous behind-the-scenes rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis — may actually be more truthful than most viewers would imagine. As he told the outlet,
He goes on to describe some of the true-to-life scenes fans have already been privy to since Feud's premiere earlier this month, including that Davis (played by Susan Sarandon) allegedly slept with Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? director Robert Aldrich, and that she and Crawford (played by Jessica Lange) were actually getting along when the movie first started filming. He told EW,
But the most interesting takeaway here isn't that some of Feud's juiciest details are real; it's that the "backstage battle" between Davis and Crawford wasn't — at least the way Murphy views it. He continued,
In this portrayal, the drama between Davis and Crawford was started as a marketing ploy and fueled by tabloids, which in turn took its toll on the women and caused them to fight in real life. Feud, then, isn't so much a racy rehashing of Hollywood drama as it is an eye-opening takedown of the misogynistic tendency to pit women against each other, whether it be for entertainment or for profit.
If that was indeed what led to Davis and Crawford's on-set conflict, Feud is actually more accurate than the story that it's based on — well, at least the one that publicly unfolded — and that makes the show all the more compelling to watch.