If you’ve been watching any FX series lately (Legion!), you’ve probably seen the campy teasers for Ryan Murphy’s new miniseries, Feud. The first season stars Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis; the actresses had a legendary rivalry, both professional and personal. Murphy’s take looks predictably over the top, and both Sarandon and Lange look to be having the time of their lives as drama queens, so in this case the writer/showrunner’s tendency toward running off the rails should work to his advantage.
Less fitting — at least, that’s my initial feeling — could be Murphy’s just announced second Feud season idea, which treads a bit of dangerous ground. Since the Princes Charles, William and Harry are all still very much in the public eye, and Princess Diana’s demise was so very tragic, this one could sting more than intended. Indeed, Diana was and remains so beloved, I’m a little shocked her break-up with Charles could be considered fodder at all. For most of those of us who adored the Princess from afar, she was victim to Charles philandering, especially when it came to his once and former girlfriend, and current wife, Camilla Parker Bowles. Whether “Camillagate” was their biggest issue as a couple may be publicly debatable but clearly, from Diana’s point of view –“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” — Parker Bowles was a huge problem. Additionally, Princess Diana suffered from depression and possibly other mental illnesses; one can hardly imagine calling her relationship with Prince Charles a “feud”.
Like so many around the world, I was taken with Diana, especially by the way she conducted herself after the divorce. She channeled her energy into supporting charities in many countries, was a champion for children, the arts, and worked with and for victims of land mines, AIDS and cancer. The listing of causes she gave her time and energy to is seemingly endless and today, her sons carry on that legacy.
While I’m trying to give Murphy the benefit of the doubt, I just can’t imagine wanting to see Diana portrayed in other than a respectful way. And, after her tragic ending in a dark Paris tunnel, leaving behind two fairly young, broken-hearted boys, I hope this particular edition of his series won’t have the usual Murphy tone.
Feud: Charles and Diana will air on FX in 10 episodes in 2018.