Cate Blanchett in “Mrs. America’ Recaps

The podcast will be back later in the summer. In the meantime here are our reviews of Mrs. America.

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Episodes 1-3 with Tayler Montague

We are going back to the early 1970s to recap the first three episodes of Cate Blanchett’s first major TV role in the FX on Hulu show, Mrs America as polarizing right wing figure Phyllis Schalfly. We discuss her performance, the all star cast, the costumes and review the show. Murtada’s guest is  writer and filmmaker Tayler Montague.

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Cate Blanchett as Schlafly with Ben Rosenfield as her gay son John Schlafly

Episodes 4 & 5 with Casey Mink

In our review of episodes 4 and 5 we talk about Betty Freidan (Tracey Ullman) and Brenda Feigen Fasteau (Ari Graynor) debating Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett). We also discuss talk Blanchett’s self slap, the fractions in the Feminist Movement, the “Tokenism” scene and many other topics. Murtada’s guest is staff writer at BackstageCasey Mink.

MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured: Bria Henderson as Margaret Sloan. CR: Pari Dukovic/FX

Episodes 6 & 7 with Andy Stewart plus an interview with cast member Bria Samoné Henderson

This time we tackle episodes 6 and 7 of the series about Jill Ruckelshaus played by Elizabeth Banks and Bella Abzug played by Margo Martindale. Also in this episode an interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist Margaret Sloan on the show. Murtada’s guest is Andy Stewart.

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Episodes 8 & 9 with Tayler Montague

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. 

If you are enjoying the podcast buy Murtada a cup of coffee, or rate and review.

Follow along the show is streaming on Hulu.

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The faces that Blanchett makes on this show!

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Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.

 

Cate Blanchett in ‘Mrs. America 8-9’ Podcast Recap

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.  Logo - Mrs America Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart 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.”  mrs_am_108-3738r 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). Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 7.05.29 AM 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? Phyllis Schlafly. Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95 Topics discussed: Houston 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. 
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  • 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.
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  • 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: Mrs. America 1-3 Mrs. America 4 & 5 Mrs. America 6 & 7 and interview with Bria Samoné Henderson. Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /   iHeart Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.

‘Mrs. America 6-7’ Podcast Recap and interview with Bria Samoné Henderson

We continue recaping and reviewing Hulu’s Mrs. America starring Cate Blanchett. This week we will tackle episodes 6 and 7 of the series about Jill Ruckelshaus played by Elizabeth Banks and Bella Abzug played by Margo Martindale. Also in this episode an interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist Margaret Sloan on the show. Hosted by Murtada Elfadl with guest Andy Stewart.

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Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /  Google /   iHeart

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.” 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? Phyllis Schlafly.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95

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Ep 6 “Jill”

Official Synopsis:With a pro-ERA Republican in the White House, Phyllis protests her own party, which puts her in conflict with Republican Feminist leader, Jill Ruckelshaus. Written by Sharon Hoffman; Directed by Laure de Clermont Tonnere (The Mustang).

Ep 7 “Bella”

Official Synopsis: “Bella is put in charge of the first ever government-funded National Women’s Conference. Phyllis and her women clash over how to best disrupt the conference.” Written by Micah Schraft; Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Captain Marvel).

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Topics Discussed:

  • These two episodes show Phyllis going to the extreme right – the evangelicals, pro-life extremists – to expand base and get into the inner echelons of power.
  • At the end of episode 6 Jill is out and Phyllis is in, the new extreme wing of the republican party wins. Again the show makes the parallels to our political situation today which is one of its main themes.
  • The parallels between Bella and Phyllis as they are both trying to hold onto power, but go in different directions. Bella wants to be seen again as radical and Phyllis is willing to do anything to win even working with the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Cate’s performance – the many reactions / faces she makes. 
  • The performances of Margo Martindale and Elizabeth Banks as well as Melanie Lynskey.
  • The queer characters and themes and how they are integrated into the series’ main themes.
  • The series’ Emmy chances and who might be singled out from the supporting cast.

Interview with Bria Samoné Henderson who plays activist and former Ms. Magazine editor Margaret Sloan. The interview starts at 39:45 if you’d like to jump ahead.

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Previously on the podcast:

Mrs. America 1-3

Mrs. America 4 & 5

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Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.

Cate Blanchett in ‘Mrs. America 4-5’ Podcast Recap

We continue recaping and reviewing Hulu’s Mrs. America starring Cate Blanchett. This week we tackle episodes 4 and 5 dealing with Betty Freidan (Tracey Ullman) and Brenda Feigen Fasteau (Ari Graynor) debating Phyllis Schlafly (Blanchett). Hosted by Murtada Elfadl with guest staff writer at Backstage, Casey Mink.

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Subscribe:  Apple Podcasts   /   Stitcher   /  Spotify  /  Google /   iHeart

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.” 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?

Phyllis Schlafly.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95

Topics discussed:

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Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan

Ep 4 – Betty

Official Synopsis: “As Stop ERA grows and gains media attention, Betty Friedan, the mother of the Feminist movement, makes it her mission to take down Phyllis.” Written by Boo Killebrew; Directed by Amma Asante (Belle, A United Kingdom).

  • The parallels between the personal lives of Betty and Phyllis showing them both with their daughters. Great scene with Betty’s daughter and her ex-husband’s new wife.
  • The ending – Gloria thanking Betty for her leadership – brought me to tears. This show has great episode endings.
  • The race question comes up again – John Birch Society “I think you should just keep that to yourself.” 
  • ‘Tokenism ” scene with Bria Samoné Henderson as Maragaret Sloan.
  • Episode brings into forefront the fractions in the women’s movement both between Betty and Bella/Gloria and within the black women’s movement as evidened by the Sundays at Flo’s scene.
  • Phyllis’ prep scene with her husband.

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Ari Grayor as Brenda Feigan Fasteau with Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem

Ep 5 – Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc

Official Synopsis: “Phyllis and Fred Schlafly debate superstar Feminist couple Brenda and Marc Feigan-Fasteau on television.” Written by Micah Schraft & April Shih; Directed by Laure de Clermont Tonnere (The Mustang). 

  • The title is homage to the film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice which closed also with “What the World Needs Now.”
  • The debate scene led to a big fraction in the Schlafly’s marriage. Phyllis does exactly what she wants even after being called submissive on national TV.
  • Phyllis actually wins by the end since Illinois doesn’t ratify the ERA yet the show subtly handles that. Couple that with Fred saying many people don’t want the ERA to pass, showing us Phyllis as what Brenda called her, a puppet for special interests.
  • The show weaves in different depictions of marriage – Phyllis and Fred, Brenda and Marc and Gloria and Franklin – to comment on the institution.
  • The scene with Phyllis and her son “you have to be careful”.

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John Slattery and Cate Blanchett as Fred and Phyllis Schlafly

General:

  • These two episodes can be subtitled “The Lavendar Menace” as there are many queer themes and characters. John Schlafly, Margaret Sloan, Brenda Feigan Fasteau, Jules the photographer.
  • Cate’s performance – the faces she makes after Fred calls her submissive on TV. Gestural acting bonanza; finger through teeth, slapping herself. 
  • Tracey Ullman and Ari Graynor performances.
  • The show doesn’t tell all the stories, we have to wikipedia some info e.g.“Where’s Kate Millet now?”
  • The show has yet to comment on Gloria having a Black boyfriend; they are presented as a couple with nary a comment from another character or them talking about it. Is it progress or avoidance?
  • Casey would like to see Cate on stage with Katrina Lenk, we briefly discuss Lenk’s sublime recent rendition of Stephen Sondheim “Johanna.”

Reviews of Episodes 1 through 3 are also available.

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Ari Graynor and Adam Brody as Brenda Feigan Fasteau and Mark Feigan Fasteau

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Like? Rate and Review. Have a question? Leave us a comment.