We are going back to the early 1970s to talk about the first three episodes of Cate Blanchett’s first major TV role in Mrs America. She’s playing polarizing right wing figure Phyllis Schalfly. We discuss her performance, the all star cast, the costumes and review the show. Hosted by Murtada Elfadl with guest writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague.
What is the show about? available on Hulu
Official Synopsis: “Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.” Through the eyes of the women of the era – both Schlafly and second wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus – the series explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 70s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted the political landscape.”
Who does Cate play?
How is Cate introduced?
A couple of minutes after two minor characters talk about her, in a 2 piece swimsuit “modeling’ at a Republican political fundraiser.
Ep 1 – Phyllis
- The first episode seems to be saying even Phyllis suffered as a woman from misogyny. “Have you ever thought of starting a baking business?” the look in her face then.
- The key scene – the meeting at the capitol when Phyllis sees an opportunity to gain influence by going against the ERA. She starts by saying “I’ve never been discriminated against” yet immediately she is. Shows her as short sighted and not as smart as she thinks she is.
- The speech at the Mothers and Daughters luncheon, hits all the stuff they’ve been building up to.
- The end scene with the women’s movement celebrating, so poignant because we know how that went.
Ep 2 – Gloria
- The portrayal of Steinmen as the glamour girl of the movement, showing her political acumen in how she plays the game with McGovern vs Betty Freidan who alienates everyone.
- The abortion subplot.
- There’s misogyny even at Ms. magazine, “great legs.”
- Gloria and her boyfriend and the performances of Rose Byrne and Jay Ellis.
Ep 3 – Shirley
- Shirley’s resolve not to “roll over when the man presses” and her definition of power.
- The dramtization on the vote on abortion on the convention floor.
- How white feminists stiffed Chisholm.
- Phyllis’ embrace of the racist women at STOP ERA – is the series smart so far about handling race?
- Cate’s performance – brilliant in its smaller moments. The smaller gestures like how she stops before diving in when manipulating a situation. We dive into a coule of scenes.
- The costumes. Recreation and more. The wigs. “Dusty rose.”
- The parallels it’s drawing to our current living nightmare with the Trump election are sometimes too on the nose. Though that doesn’t make them wrong. (Phyllis at Donahue is Trump on TV every night).
- The direction; does it rise above a typical TV show? The first two episodes were directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Captain Marvel) and the 3rd by Amma Asante (Belle, A United Kingdom).
- Did the show transport the audience to the early 70s successfully? The creator Dahvi Waller is well known for another period show, Mad Men.
Reviews of Episodes 4 and 5 are now available.