Mrs. America is the history of the struggle over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s. The first 3 episodes dropped as a bunch on April 15, with the remaining episodes coming on Wednesdays until all 9 episodes have aired. The series runs on FX/Hulu.
Just as a catch up for the youngsters, the ERA passed overwhelming in the Senate. However, an Amendment to the Constitution has to be ratified by 38 states within a set period of time and that didn’t happen. The fight to get a Constitutional Amendment declaring equality under law between men and women is ongoing.
A tweet from the Mrs. America series creator @DahviWaller shows the cast reciting the entirety of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The series shows both sides of the fight by jumping back and forth between the sides and characters.
The episodes are named for the women who participated in the fight for or against equal rights for women. Episode 1 is “Phyllis.” This episode is the introduction to Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett). She was an expert on the threat of nuclear war with Russia who got twisted into being an opponent of the ERA. She wanted power, she wanted a voice. She got it as the voice against the ERA.
Much as I dislike Phyllis Schlafly, both then and now, I have to give Cate Blanchett credit for humanizing her rather than demonizing her.
Episode 2 is “Gloria.” Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), the founder of the brand new publication Ms. Magazine, became the reluctant face of the feminist movement. Behind her were forceful but less attractive women such as Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) and Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale). Episode 2 was about the 1972 Presidential election. Gloria’s issue was reproductive freedom in addition to the ERA.
Episode 3, also about the 1972 election, is “Shirley.” Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba) made her historic run for President in this election. The women’s movement, the fight for reproductive freedom, and the fight over the ERA all swirled together around Shirley Chisholm as she struggled against racism and sexism in her run. Flo Kennedy (Niecy Nash) was among her many supporters.
I always think Uzo Aduba is the best actor in whatever she’s in, and she didn’t disappoint me here as Congresswoman Chisholm.
I lived through these time and remember all the woman portrayed in the series. Some are my personal heroines. The series offers glimpses into the story that I didn’t learn from the media at the time.
Amma Asante, Anna Boden, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, and Ryan Fleck share the directing duties.
Mrs. America is as relevant and topical today as it was 5o years ago. The seemingly simplest issues of equality and civil rights continue to divide the country. The tactics of the fight remain the same, only more so because of the internet and social media.
Have a look at the trailer.
I’m looking forward to watching the remaining episodes of this series. Are you watching?