What a misery we are living in; a global pandemic and a chaotic presidential election.
What better time than now to indulge ourselves in a liberating TV series, I present to you Mrs. America. Starring the glamorous Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly, an American conservative who kick-started a mission to stop the Equal Rights Amendment, stating that a woman’s role was in the house. Her rival, the witty Gloria Steinem (portrayed by Rose Byrne), is the face of the ERA in the 1970s, pushing for women’s rights on abortion and equal pay.
Photos via LA Times (2020)
Not only is the show politically and historically accurate, it is also aesthetic, nostalgic and even comedic, raising issues still precedent in the 21st century. Women’s rights are once again on the decline, with ‘pro-life’ states like Alabama reinstating abortion laws which make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion, regardless of rape of incest. Mrs. America successfully explores these issues and its viewers: to watch and reflect on their political and moral beliefs.
As a huge fan of Sarah Paulson and her incredible work on-screen, she plays the only fictional character in the series - Alice Macray. As a latecomer of the show, Paulson arrived mid-production, only 36 hours after wrapping up Ratched - another one of Ryan Murphy’s mind-bending shows. Her character, Alice, has the most dramatic transformation of all, beginning the series as a ‘suburban conservative woman’ who is ‘radicalized’ by the STOP ERA movement (McHenry, 2020). She serves as Phyllis’s Schlafly’s wing-woman and is the brains behind the movement. In an episode dedicated to her (Episode 8), Alice undergoes a huge transformation, expressing raw emotion whilst grappling with her own ethical uncertainties. She represents a glimmer of hope in the American population, in hope of challenging these anti-feminist beliefs, and as a result, plays a crucial role in Mrs. America.
This show isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you are ready for your moral, ethical, and political beliefs to be deconstructed, then press play!
All 9 episodes are available on BBC iPlayer (UK).
Adams, S. (2020) Sarah Paulson on Playing a Housewife Who—Well, We Won’t Spoil It. Available at: https://slate.com/culture/2020/05/mrs-america-sarah-paulson-interview-episode-8-houston.html (Accessed: 15 January 2021).
Blake, M. (2020) How accurate is ‘Mrs. America’s’ portrayal of Phyllis Schlafly? We asked a historian. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2020-04-24/mrs-america-phyllis-schlafly-equal-rights-amendment (Accessed: 15 January 2021).
Blake, M. (2020) How accurate is ‘Mrs. America’s’ portrayal of Gloria Steinem? We investigated. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2020-04-24/mrs-america-gloria-steinem-abortion-rights (Accessed: 15 January 2021).