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Review: Mrs. America

Mrs. America is a lively look at conservative iconoclast Phyllis Schlafly and the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in early ’70s America. Cate Blanchett plays Schlafly, an author, defense expert and staunch opponent of ERA, which she calls a “fraudulent amendment” in the series, pushed by elitist “libbers” from the Northeast that would result in women sent to war.

A deeply religious mother, Schlafly is a fascinating character, and Blanchett fills her with verve. Schlafly raises a large family in Illinois. She sends out a political newsletter with her name on it to followers, and discusses political issues on public affairs programs and in Washington.

Other political figures in Mrs. America are Shirley Chisholm, an African-American candidate for the presidency in 1972, U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug and feminist Gloria Steinem. Uzo Aduba plays Chisholm, Margo Martindale plays Abzug and Rose Byrne portrays Steinem.

John Slattery plays Schlafly’s husband Fred, but the men don’t appear to have a whole lot to do in this series.

Tracey Ullman, Elizabeth Banks and Sarah Paulson are also in the cast.

Women on both sides of the aisle wield considerable political energy in Mrs. America, which can make the 2020 presidential election, and its lack of a female candidate, all the more disappointing.

Dahvi Waller created the series and is an exec producer. At TCA press tour earlier this year, she called Mrs. America “an origin story of today’s culture wars, and how we became such a divided nation.”

The series offers an intriguing portrait of Schlafly, a political figure many are not familiar with. She was, to some, a fearless feminist and to others, a feminist’s worst nightmare. Blanchett takes on a big-league role, and delivers it with aplomb.