Mrs America is the true story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and its opposition led by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett).
Tracey Ullman steals the show
Writer and activist Betty Friedan’s (Tracey Ullman) book The Feminine Mystique catapulted her to the frontline of the feminist movement. Arguably considered the most famous “libber” by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) and her friends, Friedan has a dogged, outspoken exterior that hides an insecure, unhappy woman. She has a problem with Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), who gets a lot of attention as she’s attractive. Despite being warned against engaging with Schlafly by Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) and Steinem, Friedan goes head to head with the anti-Equal Rights Amendment activist in a debate. Friedan is off to a fiery start, supported by the audience as she counters every argument made by her opponent. However, she falls prey to a personal attack Schlafly lobs at her. Schlafly brings up the fact that Friedan was left by her husband for a younger, more beautiful woman. Ullman plays Friedan with absolute aplomb, portraying a character who’s messy yet magnificent. It is indeed a testament to the actor’s skill that she manages to steal the show from under Cate Blanchett’s sharp nose.
Phyllis Schlafly can’t win them all
Schlafly is going through a lot. She may have won her face-off against Friedan but she’s certainly not having the best time on the home front. Her suspicions about her son John’s (Ben Rosenfield) sexuality are confirmed, much to her dismay. She’s left to soothe the ego of her husband Fred (John Slattery) who is smarting after being referred to as “Phyllis Schlafly’s lawyer husband” in a newspaper feature. And she’s been invited to a couples debate with her husband against liberal lawyers Brenda (Ari Graynor) and Marc Feigen-Fausteau (Adam Brody). Schlafly goes in with her head held high, confident of defeating them like she did Friedan. Instead, she’s destroyed by a pragmatic, assertive and fearsome Brenda while the men take a backseat. Schlafly retreats, her confidence shaken by a woman who’s probably on a higher intellectual footing than her. Her relationship with Fred is on shaky ground, and her decision to apply to law school firmly drives a wedge between them.
Creator: Dahvi Waller
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Uzo Aduba, Sarah Paulson, Tracey Ullman
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar
Read our recaps of the previous episodes here.