Mercado on TV: Suranne Jones, Naomi Watts and Eve Best drive dramas Maryland and Feud


‘I could watch Eve Best and Suranne Jones snap at each other forever’ in BritBox’s Maryland

Maryland (BritBox) is a riveting new drama about two sisters. Unlike many other high-concept dramas, where secret assassins and serial killers seem to lurk in every suburb, this is a simple but engaging story about two estranged siblings who are forced to reunite when their mother dies unexpectedly.

Essentially, this is a two-hander between two truly incredible actors. Eve Best plays the confident and bolshie sister. Suranne Jones plays against type as the younger and more insecure one. The details of their mother’s death are a bit sketchy, particularly with a bizarre guest appearance from Stockard Channing.

When you have two fantastic actors like that, who needs anything more? Everyone who has ever fought with a family member will be able to relate to Maryland, and the beautiful scenery is a bonus. Not every drama needs to be another Midsomer Murders, and I could watch Eve Best and Suranne Jones snap at each other forever.

Suranne Jones and Eve Best in Maryland

One of the greatest two-handers of recent years was Feud (Binge/Foxtel) which was about Hollywood icons Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange). Now Jessica Lange is one of the producers of a Feud sequel, while also playing the mother of the lead character.

Feud: Truman Capote’s treacherous backstabbing

Feud: Capote vs the Swans (Binge/Foxtel), directed by Gus Van Sant, is about acclaimed author Truman Capote (Tom Hollander) and his shaky relationship with the upper echelons of New York society. Unlike the first Feud, this one has a vast cast that includes Chloe Sevigny, Calista Flockhart, Demi Moore, Russell Tovey and Molly Ringwald.

It is also the final screen performance from Treat Williams, who plays network president William S Daley. TV historians remember him as the man who renewed Gilligan’s Island for a fourth season on CBS, only to then cancel it. That’s because he and his socialite wife Babe (Naomi Watts) wanted to reinstate Gunsmoke for a thirteenth season because it was their favourite show.

Sadly, Gilligan doesn’t get a mention because Feud is more concerned with Capote’s treacherous backstabbing of the couple. His fall from grace happens within the first two episodes, and then the third episode, in black and white, is a flashback to a black-and-white ball.

Feud is very niche, but the story of Truman Capote is compelling. It is the latest in a long line of queer icon stories from prolific producer Ryan Murphy, following American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Halston (Netflix), The Andy Warhol Diaries (Netflix), and that wishful fictionalisation of Rock Hudson in Hollywood (Netflix).

The second season of Feud is good, but it’s not as memorable as the first one. This series is a bit too long and wears out its welcome with eight episodes going over the same ground again and again. But when you’ve got a cast like that, it’s understandable why Ryan Murphy didn’t want to let them go.

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].

This week: Feud, Griselda, Mr & Mrs Smith, Three Little Birds, Nemesis

Five new series reviewed this episode. A brilliant cast is a reason not to miss the second season of Feud (Binge/Foxtel series), sub-titled Capote vs The Swans. Also this week is Griselda (Netflix, series) from the creators of Narcos. Three Little Birds (BritBox, series) from writer and producer Lenny Henry. Also Mr & Mrs Smith (Prime, series) and finally, the brilliant doco Nemesis, about the three recent Liberal Party prime ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison

Naomi Watts in Feud

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