Feud: Bette and Joan 1×02 – The Other Woman

"You know the good thing about scotch, Bob, is it only gets better when it ages. Broads they just get sour."


What an absorbing show this has turned out to be.

The Other Woman is undoubtedly Alfred Molina’s hour, as the episode dedicates a whole lot of screen-time to director Bob Aldrich and his complicated dynamic with his leading ladies. Both Joan and Bette call Bob up in the middle of the night and ask for him to come over (much to his wife’s behest), and he ultimately finds himself sleeping with the latter. Also interesting to note: he’s slept with Joan before, making this triangle wildly complicated and disturbing. Thankfully, Molina’s performance is superb; even when he’s up to no good, the character is both likeable and relatable. Watching him juggle both divas has definitely proven to be one of the show’s strengths!

This hour also does a brilliant job of showcasing just how much the studio (and men in power) manipulated our ladies into such an iconic feud. It’s really unsettling to see both ladies fall for the various games and manipulations, all for the sake of PR and business. This is especially true when it comes to Stanley Tucci and his excellent performance as Jack Warner, the sleazeball behind it all who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Here’s hoping our ladies get to take him down a peg or two (doubtful).

This is also a terrific episode for Judy Davis. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper is a hoot, and the show does an immaculate job of portraying her as the one with all the true power. She gets two fantastic scenes this week: her meeting with Bob in which she convinces him to reveal fake gossip about Crawford’s “tits” to gain relevancy, and the sympathetic scene she shared with Joan by the pool. Are these two really friends or are they playing one another? You can’t really tell, but I personally found their bond strangely genuine and affecting. Kudos to Davis and Lange for finding the complexity beneath it all.

And then there’s that absolutely heartbreaking ending with poor old Harriet in bed with her eyes open as she feels Bob returning home. He gets into bed for a few seconds, the alarm rings, and then he gets up once more. All throughout, the focus is on Harriet’s face as she quietly sobs. It’s so affecting and powerful, and Molly Price sells the hell out of it.

Classic Bits

– Awkward moment with the blonde asking Joan for an autograph (for her grandmother). But thankfully Joan gets her revenge by making sure Bette has the blonde fired. I love it when they work together.

– How nasty is Jack Warner? Seriously the man is a real sleazeball.

– Although I love that Zeta Jones and Kathy Bates are on the show, they still feel kind of useless with their exposition. The show could easily survive without them at the moment. Writers, rectify this!

– Even more deceitful games: Bette wants to invite Joan to dinner but Bob discourages this.

– Peter has been such a non-entity so far so I didn’t really feel anything when Joan threw him out. It’s amusing to note that she used terms like “recast” and “lines” to break up with him.

– Mamacita’s stoic reactions just kill me. Hilarious.

– How great is the set design and art direction on this show? Joan’s pool is an achievement by itself!

– Very harsh scene between Bette and her daughter who claims her mother has lost all relevance in her old age. Ouch. But I’m thankful Keirnan Shipka is being given something to do.

Golden Oldies

Warner: I haven’t seen this much shit since my last bowel movement.
Bob: What year was that?

Harriet: I’d think you’d be happy that both your stars are getting along.
Bob: Yeah, they’re not getting along. They’re just teaming up. It’s like the Hitler/Stalin pact.

Harriet: (to Bob) Well, don’t fool yourself. Even you’re not man enough to satisfy two women.

Joan: Bob, will you please tell Miss Davis that I will sue her if she continues to make comments that are injurious to my ability to earn a living.
Bette: Ha! Earn a living? Every time you belch, Pepsi gives you ten grand.
Joan: How dare you mention Pepsi! Unlike you, it’s good and pure.
Bette: It’s pure, all right. Pure vodka!

Joan: No matter how liberated, women’ll do what they always do when they’re cornered: eat their own and pick their teeth with the bones.

Sylvia: Miss Davis, care to comment on the fact that Miss Crawford says you look old enough to be her mother?
Bette: What’s your name, sweetheart?
Sylvia: Sylvia.
Bette: Fuck off, Sylvia.

Bette: (to Joan) I’m not interested in vanity, I’m not interested in gossip. I’m interested in the work. That’s what I want to do, so I suggest you stop fitting in calls to Parsons between your morning coffee and taking a shit of butterflies and moonbeams and whatever else comes flying out of your ass.

Warner: There’s so much ham up there I’m gonna have to go to my rabbi this afternoon and atone.

Joan: Look at this, Hedda. All of this could be gone in an instant, everything I’ve worked for my entire life. I mean, where, at my age, am I going to find another rich man to save me?
Hedda: You’ve never needed a man. Neither one of us have.
Joan: And yet we’ve always been at their mercy. At least I have. You don’t know how lucky you are, Hedda, that being an actress didn’t work out for you, that you were never a star. I mean, you’re the one who has real power in this town.

Buono: I’ll be playing your love interest.
Bette: I was expecting someone-
Buono: Thinner? Less homosexual?

Bette: (to B.D.) I’d smack you across the face for that if your braces hadn’t cost a fortune.

Bob: You should be very proud.
Joan: And you, you started from nothing. Look at all you’ve accomplished.
Bob: My grandfather was a U.S. Senator. My cousin is Nelson Rockefeller.
Joan: And you overcame all that.

Jam-packed with clever dialogue and layered characterization, The Other Woman is a stellar follow-up hour.

 Nad Rating

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