Ryan Murphy created Feud as a response to modern issues facing women in Hollywood
Feud: Bette and Joan may be set in 1960s Hollywood, but as viewers will soon discover, the show’s themes are relevant in the present day.
The season focuses on the relationship between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis as they work together to make the now-classic movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
“It is about two women who have reached this point in their lives where they’re just sort of at the height of their powers, and yet the industry has said, ‘There’s no roles available for you anymore,'” show creator Ryan Murphy explained during a SiriusXM town hall discussion with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle.
“I wanted to make the show because I wanted to tell a story about modern issues that are facing women today, and, oddly enough, nothing’s changed. You’d think things have progressed. They have not,” notes Murphy. “So really it’s a show about sexism and misogyny, and why aren’t women being paid as much as men, and why in our culture we have ‘It’ girls and not ‘It’ boys and why do women feel there’s only room for there to be one successful woman at a time… All of these things are very interwoven in a very juicy, fun, but ultimately, I feel, a tragedy.”
Executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall said that she found herself relating to Bette Davis, especially with Susan’s performance. “To be an ambitious female, which I feel we all understand, and all aspire to, you start to see how serious Bette Davis was about the work. Same with Joan Crawford. They may have been movie stars, but they were workers.”
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See the clip above, and watch Cagle’s full town hall interview with the cast of Feud, streaming now on PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network at PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on mobile or connected devices. You can also listen to the full interview on EW Radio (SiriusXM ch. 105) all this week.
Feud premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.