Mrs. America: Reagan
May 27, 2020 6:35 PM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

In 1979, the original deadline for the ERA arrives. Phyllis celebrates by "danc[ing] on its grave" even though the feminists secured an extension to 1982. Yet more time isn't sufficient to grant the ERA's success. Carter abandons the Women's Commission and his successor doesn't have a place for feminists in his platform: Make America Great Again.

The AV Club:
There’s a clear parallel between Bella, Gloria, Betty, and Shirley’s reactions to the news and our own to Trump winning. (To be fair, anytime I watch an election night in a show or movie or what-have-you—even if it came out before 2016, I’ll remember that November night four years ago.) Bella knows Reagan’s going to turn back progress in this country. She tells Shirley—who maintains her position in the House of Representatives— “Hold the door for the next bunch.”
Slate notes a reference from the final shot to a 1975 feminist film (that Alice stumbled into during the previous episode):
As for Phyllis Schlafly, she’s stuck in an earlier part of the movie. Having laid the groundwork for the modern conservative movement and the election of Ronald Reagan, she’s considered and then passed over for a position in his administration, because while the anti-ERA movement has triumphed, it’s too toxic for a national figure like Reagan to embrace. “The battle follows us home,” Regan says over the phone, and suddenly, home is all Phyllis has left. Her husband moves on to the subject of when she’s fixing dinner, and she responds as the camera frames her through the bars of the kitchen window, “It’s always at six.” The last shot of the series (before the coda, consisting of historical footage) is Phyllis sitting at her kitchen table, peeling an apple in real time and then reaching for the next—a truncated taste of Jeanne Dielman, but an unmistakable allusion all the same (and one that showrunner Dahvi Waller acknowledged to Slate).
Vulture writes:
Repeatedly, the justification of everything that Phyllis and her fellow conservatives are doing is framed within the context of religion. “After years of being ostracized and discounted, religious voices are being heard in the political arena,” Rosemary tells Alice, explaining why their movement is even more important than it was in the beginning. “We are winning because we have God on our side,” Phyllis proclaims in her nauseating gala keynote speech, delivered in a dress that makes her appear to have angel’s wings. Even after Phyllis forgets to pick up her daughter from college because she’s so preoccupied with what is, contrary to her own rhetoric, absolutely a career outside of the home, Phyllis tells her daughter that must do her work because “she was anointed by God.” That sounded so familiar for some reason … oh, right. That’s why.
posted by Monochrome (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, that was pretty dispiriting.

All of the leads are great in this. Cate Blanchett is awesome.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:20 PM on May 27, 2020 [2 favorites]


Most of the time I can hold off from feeling like the general rejection of women through sexism in society is a rejection of me, personally, but I sobbed like a baby at the end of this episode when they let the Reagan Revolution wave of anti-feminism just crash over the viewer’s head. Better to see it clearly than become a Phyllis Schlafley, who dealt with the pain by trying to clutch onto whatever power she could and living in a world of denial and projection.

Great acting by everyone involved but my favorite was Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan. And I don’t think many series (fiction or nonfiction) have understood Gloria Steinem as well as this one: her power has always been her ability to listen to others, which itself is radical in a leader.
posted by sallybrown at 6:36 AM on May 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


I think the “teabags” line used a different take than what was shown in trailers. Phyllis seemed more angry in the trailers.
posted by Monochrome at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2020


This was an incredible series, that needs to be seen by more people.
posted by lalochezia at 6:13 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


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