By Sophie Squire
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Mrs America—a promising new drama about women’s liberation

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Issue 2712
Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schafly in Mrs America
Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schafly in Mrs America (Pic: BBC/FX/Sabrina Lantos)

Mrs America follows the political upheaval around the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

The women’s movement is pitted against various reactionary forces and figures, such as the Republican author Phyllis Schlafly.

She’s the focus of the first episode.

Schlafly, played by Cate Blanchett, is presented as a complex character.

She shows how knowledgeable and intelligent she is, and how she is ignored and belittled by the sexist men in the Republican Party.

There’s a worry that she comes across as too likeable.

Schlafly experiences horrific sexism but she was also deeply reactionary herself.

She was against the equal rights amendment because she believed it would lead to women having to face conscription, and would destroy the family unit.

Most importantly Schlafly is a perfect example of a ruling class woman who could actually benefit from spouting reactionary rhetoric.

At the end of the episode we get a brief scene where the women’s liberation movement discusses Schlafly and its aims as a movement.

The characters involved include such figureheads as Gloria Steinem and Shirley Chisholm—the first black woman to be elected to the  US congress.

We already see political differences within the movement.

One character argues for progressing the rights of women by working with president Richard Nixon and congress.

Others disagree.

This series looks to be promising and will hopefully examine some of the achievements but also the contradictions of the women’s movements.

Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC2 and on BBC iPlayer

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