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Capote vs the Swans review: New York catfight stings with sadness

The second season of Feud has replaced the overheated story of Charles and Diana with a thoughtful, poignant drama.

The decision to shift the focus of Ryan Murphy's tabloid anthology drama Feud from Charles and Diana to Capote vs the Swans has resulted in a more thoughtful and less sensationalized story. The first season of Feud followed the tumultuous relationship between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, turning behind-the-scenes gossip into a dramatic showbiz narrative. The second season, based on the book Capote's Women by Laurence Leamer, explores the acrimony and isolation in New York's high society, led by Truman Capote and his closest female friends and frenemies.

In the aftermath of In Cold Blood, Capote is in high demand, serving as a confidant and court jester to the rich women of New York. However, when Capote's new book uses the tawdry details of Babe's life as fodder, the dynamic of their friendship begins to fracture. The series delves into the complexities of the friendships between women and gay men, shedding light on the emptiness at the core of their relationships.

The sleekly recreated party scene of 60s and 70s New York is brought to life by directors including Gus Van Sant, but as the tone darkens, the series becomes more about the awful emptiness at its core. The series provides balance where others wouldn't, portraying a feud with no heroes or villains, just different variations of loss. Capote can be an exhausting character, veering between charismatic and thoughtful to nasty and selfish, and a virtuosic performance by Tom Hollander brings depth to the character.

The series highlights the grief not just for the end of a friendship but also of an era, as the characters grapple with the changing times. Despite some missteps, the second season of Feud shines brighter than the first by choosing to highlight melancholy over meanness.

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