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. 
image0 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: 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.

Cate Blanchett in ‘Mrs. America 1-3’ Podcast Recap

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.

Logo - Mrs America 1

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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?

Phyllis Schlafly.

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.

Critical Response: Metacritic : 87  RT: 95

Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly modeling in the opening scene of Mrs. America

Topics discussed:

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.

Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan

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.

MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured:  Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm. CR: Sabrina Lantos/FX
Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm in a scene from Mrs. America

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.

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