FX's upcoming series Feud deals with a very specific time in Hollywood icon Joan Crawford's life: the days she spent filming What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? alongside nemesis Bette Davis, years after her career had gone fallow. Any time a real person's story is revisited onscreen, one wonders what they and their family members think of how they're depicted. Crawford died in 1977, so she isn't around to comment on Jessica Lange's interpretation of her, but what does Joan Crawford's family think of Feud?
Many of Crawford's relatives are deceased: all four of her husbands have passed away, as have her siblings and parents. Two of her four children, Christopher and Cynthia, have also died; her remaining children and grandchildren may have mixed reactions considering their relationships with Crawford, but none have commented directly on Feud. It's unclear whether they even intend to watch the show once it airs.
While two of her children are still alive (Christina Crawford and Cathy Crawford), as well as Cathy and Christopher's children, trying to guess what they might think about Feud gets a little complicated when you take a closer look at their relationships with Crawford herself. While Cathy was very close to her mother, Christina and Crawford had a famously difficult relationship.
Christina made her struggles with Crawford public in her 1978 book Mommie Dearest, which described the verbal and physical abuse she suffered growing up. Despite many opinions to the contrary, including denials from her sisters Cathy and Cynthia, Christina never backed down on her story. Her sisters, however, had nothing but glowing things to say about their mother over the years.
Similarly, Cathy's children have also sung Crawford's praises, but her son Casey did tell a Joan Crawford fan site that all of the jokes he heard about his grandmother growing up made him feel he had to keep their connection quiet. "I began keeping the name of my grandmother a secret," he said. "I had a belly full of Mommie Dearest jokes. No one but my closest friends I grew up with knew who I was." That could indicate an unwillingness to speak further on Crawford in public, especially because the family had already done so quite often in years past.
The most major onscreen iteration of Crawford besides Lange in Feud was Faye Dunaway's portrayal in the 1981 adaptation of Mommie Dearest. The family's opinion on that film could provide some insight into what they think about seeing versions of Crawford onscreen. The melodramatic, over the top performance in Mommie Dearest was decried by all of Crawford's daughters, regardless of their relationship with her. Christina even felt that it was not accurate despite the fact that it was adapted from her book.
If Feud ends up providing a more balanced portrayal of the late Hollywood icon, then her family may not have such a negative reaction to it. But considering everything that came before, there's no way to know if they will even end up tuning in.