REVIEW: Women are (not) all created equal according to Hulu’s Mrs. America

New Hulu series tells the story of the Equal Rights Amendment


Andrea Lindner, Senior Reporter

Hulu recently premiered its newest original series in collaboration with FX, “Mrs. America.” The historical drama is loosely based on the true story of the women on the forefront of the second-wave feminist movement and the proposal of the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) in the early 1970s. 

Cate Blanchett stars as Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative woman who is working to null the ratification of the ERA, despite being a liberated woman and a prominent figure within the Republican party. 

Gloria Steinem, played by Rose Byrne, is leading the movement opposite Schafly, fighting for equal rights for women and reproductive rights. Steinem is also supported by Shirley Chisolm, played by Uzo Aduba, who was the first African-American congresswoman and first African-American woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

 The mini-series offers a unique dual perspective of the women’s rights movement, which is something that is not often seen in other portrayals. Viewers are able to see the ERA from the perspective of the people who opposed it, such as Schlafly and her following of women who fit into the traditional housewife role, as well as the perspective of the second-wave feminists who were doing all they could to pass what they saw as important legislature.

Blanchett is fantastic as Schafly; she is ruthless, intelligent and incredibly powerful, but the viewer is never tempted to root for her. She claims to be fighting for the rights of housewives and to be against the working women, when she herself is a working woman. She is hypocritical and conniving, but her intelligence and public speaking capabilities make it obvious as to why so many conservative women were swayed to her side. 

Schlafly is simultaneously portrayed as the hero of her own story, and the villain of Gloria Steinhem’s, and Gloria receives the same treatment. Gloria Steinhem serves as a foil to Schlafly’s character. Steinhem is just as intelligent as Schlafly, but she is using her intelligence for a different purpose. She is free-spirited and is determined to achieve equal rights for women across the country. She is fiercely independent but is portrayed with more kindness than Schlafly. 

The dualities of womanhood in America in the 1970s are also represented in the design and style of the show. The costume and make-up design of the show are great, with each actor being masterfully transformed into their historical counterpart. The set design is also very successful, as the Schlafly home practically breathes upper-class white family home. The look of the show leaves no secrets as to what is to be expected. The upper-class housewives are dressed in pastel dresses while the women in the feminist movement are decked out in hippie-inspired clothing.

While Blanchett, Byrne and Aduba all give brilliant performances, some other characters leave more to be desired. Schlafly’s sister-in-law Eleanor Schlafly, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, is an interesting character, but the show has so many characters and stories to tell, that her story often gets lost in the first few episodes. Hopefully, the mini-series’ remaining five episodes will flesh out more characters and stories that have been pushed to the sidelines.

“Mrs. America” is a unique and fascinating look at one of the most important moments in the political history of the United States. The first four episodes of “Mrs. America” are currently available to stream on Hulu with new episodes premiering every Wednesday.