To review the last two episodes of Mrs. America Murtada Elfadl welcomes back guest writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague. The TV miniseries about the fight to ratify the equal rights amendment in the 1970s is created by Dahvi Waller and stars Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, the right wing polarizing organizer.
Follow along Mrs. America is streaming on Hulu.
What is the show about?
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.”
Ep 8 “Houston”
Official Synopsis: “Alice, Rosemary and Pamela cross into enemy territory at the National Women’s Conference in Houston, where they come face-to-face with Feminist leaders.” Written by Dahvi Waller; Directed by Janicza Bravo (Zola).
Ep 9 “Reagan”
Official Synopsis: “Gloria, Bella and Jill put pressure on the White House to act on their proposals from the National Women’s Conference. Phyllis prepares to leverage her political victories as the 1980 presidential election draws near.” Written by Dahvi Waller & Joshua Allen Griffith; Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
Who does Cate play?
Ep 8 “Houston”
- This is a stand-alone ep different in POV and style, with obvious allusions to Alice Through the Looking Glass.
- “We shall overcome” scene – very moving. Loved seeing all the women we spent time with during the series come together.
- Sarah Pauson’s performance and Alice’s journey – too tidy? Just right? Mix of fantasy and reality? Certainly the writers, by making her a composite character, allowed themselves the freedom to go where they couldn’t with the historical characters.
- There’s a queer undertone to the way Alice talks about Phyllis.
Ep 9 “Reagan”
- Two little Feminists skit; Melanie Lynskey is so hilarious as Rosemary.
- Men are awful – is what i was thinking as I watched how Carter treated the Women’s Movement in 1979.
- “I used to feel scared,” a fantastic ending to the Alice story.
- In the elevator as Phyllis knows she has “arrived,” Cate gives us that half satisfied smile. The inverse of the end of Carol.
- Who won in the end in the battle of Phyllis vs, 2nd wave feminists and what did they win. Does the show make it clear? The show ends with both sides losing.
- The final shot.
- Check in with what we put the show “on notice” about:
- On race; they showed Phyllis reaching out to the Klan. In this ep there’s a call back to her dependence on her maid, Willie (Novie Edwards).
- Did we get enough of the main players; Steinem, Abzug and Chisolm and their contributions?
- What about the secondary characters e.g. Flo Kennedy and Margaret Sloan-Hunter?
- We rate the show and performances.
Previously on the podcast: