It is hard to imagine a time when the law differentiated between men and women based, categorically, on their sex. Set in the 70s decade in America, Mrs. America revolves around the initial stages of the second wave of feminism-the evolution of the solidarity of women, the structuring of the Equal Rights Amendment, the struggles to get it ratified and most importantly, the opposition it received by a woman named Phyllis Schlafly.
Perfectly researched and balanced, Mrs. America shows both sides of the Equal Rights Amendment debate beautifully.
2.Series Links and Info
Mrs. AmericaAir Date: April 15, 2020 Status: Finished Studio: Shiny Penny Productions, Dirty Films, Gowanus Projections, Federal Engineering, FXP No. of Seasons: 1 No. of Episodes: 9
3.Is It Worth Watching?
Mrs. America is a very well-made show for a lot of reasons, but one of the major attractions is Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Phyllis Schlafly.
The show begins with some of the most famous feminist workers of America joining hands to bring about a change in the standing of women in society. These women, most prominently Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan and Jill Ruckelshaus, wish to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the country.
The Equal Rights Amendment would make discrimination on the basis of sex illegal, whereby women would have equal rights as men in terms of property, divorce, employment and other matters.
As the women struggle to establish themselves as a political force, they face unexpected opposition. Their opposition comes from their own kind. Phyllis Schlafly is a middle-class woman and an outspoken conservative.
She and her band of like-minded, conservative supporters believe that women need special laws and protection, which the ERA would take away.
The ‘libbers’, which is a derogatory term for liberals, are also major proponents of abortion and same-sex marriage and Phyllis believes that the ratification of the ERA is just the first step towards creating “a sex-neutral, female totalitarian nightmare.”
Fighting to keep the special privileges that women have, by virtue of their gender, Phyllis Schlafly starts her campaign against the Women’s Liberation Movement.
With her charm and power of persuasion, she becomes a serious political opponent to a much larger movement.
Mrs. America is an ambitious series that focusses on a sensational time in American history and an even more sensational and controversial figure. The ideas that the Women’s Liberation Movement first proposed during the 70s has been accepted as fair demands for years now. Much of it has been realized as well.
In times like these, when equal pay for equal work is a normal idea, Phyllis Schlafly’s claims can seem pretty outlandish and laughable. But the series does a great job of humanizing her and her ideals. It makes them seem like a plausible counter to the ideas of the liberals.
Even though the series leans towards the side of the Women’s Liberation Movement, it never demeans the opposition or intentionally shows them in a bad light.
The show is very successful in conveying the hypocrisy in Schlafly’s campaign. In her own words, she was fighting for the rights of women to be a housewife, to be a mother and a wife. But she herself spent most of her time, outside home, lobbying for her political ideas.
The historical accuracy of the series is applaudable. It does not compromise on accuracy to make an appealing drama series.
But most importantly, it chronicles the journey of a woman who, from a non-political background, became an instant political icon and successfully stopped the sanctioning of ERA.
Cate Blanchett is the biggest draw of the series. It could not have been easy to play such a politically controversial figure, but she plays Phyllis Schlafly down to a T. Her placid smile does not leave her face even when she is encountering blatant sexism.
Uzo Aduba’s performance deserves mention. She plays Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in the United States Congress. Aduba received an Emmy for her portrayal of the politician and educator who was a key figure in the Women’s Liberation Movement.
5. Final Thoughts
Phyllis Schlafly’s concerns about society and women are very relevant to the America’s political context in the current climate. Abortion and same-sex marriage still remain to be two very contentious issues. Schlafly was and will forever remain a force to be reckoned with, as the woman who spearheaded the opposition to a well-planned movement all on her own. Mrs. America does justice to her character and her achievements.
It is a pleasantly informative watch that it is recommended for everyone.