When I saw the first two episodes of FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan way back in January I went out on a limb and predicted that it would be my Program of the Year. (The proof is here.) Nothing I saw since then changed my mind, though HBO’s Game of Thrones came close. The other two top contenders – HBO’s Big Little Lies and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale – eclipsed Feud in most critics’ minds, not to mention those of voters at every major organization that honors television. With all due respect to those fine shows and their extraordinary casts, I don’t understand why Feud faded away. In its own way, and perhaps with even more conviction, given that it is a true story, Feud had as much to say about the status of women in our society past and present as any other entertainment program this year. (I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for Feud. My colleague Charlotte Lipman was impressed by it, too, noting that it was a show to which the advertising community should pay close attention. “Feud’s greatest strength is its ability to deftly draw the complicated relationships between brand and personal identities,” she wrote, adding, “What if Coke and Pepsi were real people with real feelings?”)
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