‘Feud: Capote vs. the Swans’
A look at the real-life American socialites whose soiled relationship with the ostentatious novelist is at the center of the newest season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, ‘Capote vs. the Swans.’
[This story contains spoilers from Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.]
In Feud: Capote vs. the Swans, author Truman Capote’s close relationship with a group of wealthy American socialites unravels when he permits Esquire magazine, in 1975 and 1976, to publish four chapters of his unfinished novel Answered Prayers, in which the unsavory personal details of the women’s lives are exploited in a fictionalized telling of life among society’s elite.
Based on Laurence Leamer’s best-selling book Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era, the eight-episode FX series from Ryan Murphy depicts Capote’s falling out with the group of upper-class women — whom he’d dubbed his “swans” — and their efforts to excommunicate him from the society life he so desperately clung to following the unprecedented success of his true crime novel In Cold Blood.
The second season in the anthology — which arrives seven years after the first season, Feud: Bette and Joan — also gives a voice to each of the wealthy female archetypes, Babe Paley (Naomi Watts), Slim Keith (Diane Lane), C. Z. Guest (Chloë Sevigny), Ann Woodward (Demi Moore), Lee Radziwill (Calista Flockhart) and Joanne Carson (Molly Ringwald), all of whom struggled as their inner complexities were trivialized by the men around them, including Capote, played by Tom Holland.
“I think the tragedy of that generation, which I would include my mother in, is a generation of women sort of caught between The Dick Van Dyke Show and the pill who were, I think, very frustrated a lot of times with the misogyny of the society,” Murphy said in a press conference ahead of Feud‘s premiere, attended by press including The Hollywood Reporter. “I think all of those women in our show were so brilliant in their personal lives and so intelligent that I do think 10 years-post, they all would’ve had successful business or brands. You can just see that they were all so smart, particularly in the world of manners and society and beauty. I think they all would’ve had skincare lines. I think they all would’ve had housecare lines. I think they would’ve done a Kardashian thing, which is a very brilliant business way of looking about selling an aspirational lifestyle.”
Though some of the swans did manage to turn the social capital they gained as fashion icons into successful business ventures, there was a somewhat constant struggle against betrayals of various kinds.