3 reasons Mrs. America is a wow-worthy winner worth watching

MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured: Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly. CR: Sabrina Lantos/FX
MRS. AMERICA -- Pictured: Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly. CR: Sabrina Lantos/FX /

Mrs. America is the second FX on Hulu original series to stream on the service. Here are three reasons we think fans of Mad Men, American Horror Story and The Handmaid’s Tale will love it, and why we feel it will be one to watch come award season.

Mrs. America debuted on April 15 with little fanfare. At least, little that I saw. I hadn’t heard a thing about it.

I happened to stumble across it. I was checking Hulu for something else when it caught my eye.

I didn’t know it was a series at first, though. I thought it was a documentary after I read just this little snip of its show details:

"Mrs. America tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and the unexpected backlash led by a conservative woman named Phyllis Schlafly, aka “the sweetheart of the silent majority.”"

“What’s this about?” I wondered.

I decided to watch for a few minutes to get the flavor of whether it was worth adding to my queue or not. I had no idea who was in it, but quickly realized what a treat I was in for.

A few minutes turned into devouring the first episode, and then immediately searching for others. I was ecstatic to find two more.

The first three were all released on April 15. The remaining six episodes will be released each week on Wednesdays.

I will be ready and waiting to gobble them up when they are and here’s why.

The Real-Life Serena Waterford?

Was Phyllis Schlafly the inspiration for Serena Waterford’s character in The Handmaid’s Tale?

As I watched Cate Blanchett bring Schlafly to life, I couldn’t help but note the eerie similarities between the two. O, The Oprah Magazine did too.

Both women are polished, cold, devoted to their powerful husbands (who are both named Fred), and perfectly content not only being subservient but preaching why all women should be. They feel it’s their rightful place and any woman who thinks otherwise is the real danger.

Atwood has never publicly stated whether she drew inspiration from the real-life Schlafly for Serena Waterford. However, her newest book, The Testaments, which is a continuation of The Handmaid’s Tale that Hulu is also developing into a series, may settle the debate. There’s a cafe named after Schlafly in there that some interpret as Atwood’s acknowledgment that, yes, the conservative firebrand did influence the creation of one of her major characters.

Time Capsule Period Piece

The same thing that made Mad Men such a captivating drama is the same thing that makes Mrs. America shine: the era. Not just the time period but also the E.R.A. –as in Equal Rights Amendment Movement of the early 1970s.

The series thrusts us back in time via great sets, costumes, characters and conflicts.

Another reason Mrs. America may feel reminiscent of Mad Men, though, is because both shows share a common producer and writer: Dahvi Waller.  She’s bringing the same Emmy-winning style and attention to historic details to this new series that she did to Mad Men.

The Cast

I didn’t know what actors to expect to see in Mrs. America before I started watching. (Partly because, again, I didn’t know the show even existed until I stumbled across it.)

However, you know a great performance when you see it, and whoever was playing Phyllis Schlafly was nailing it.

As soon as I started watching I flashed back to a memory of a documentary about the women’s liberation movement that included an interview with a woman who was anti-women’s lib. I had forgotten her name but I knew it was the same woman the second I tuned into Mrs. America.

But who was the actress portraying her? She looked familiar but I couldn’t place her. I stopped briefly to Google it.

“That’s Cate Blanchett?”

Blanchett isn’t just one of the leading ladies on the show, she’s also one of its executive producers.

Her performances are always amazing, but her Mrs. Schlafly may be one of her best yet. Talk about channeling the character she’s playing. Wow. If she doesn’t get an Emmy nomination, I’ll be shocked. Yes. Her performance is that good. Watch. You’ll quickly see what I mean.

However, she’s not the only big name who delivers an excellent performance. Mrs. America is stacked with a star-studded and mostly female cast that includes Rose Byrne (Gloria Steinem), Uzo Abduba (Shirley Chisholm), Elizabeth Banks (Jill Ruckleshaus), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Eleanor Schlafly), Tracey Ullman (Betty Friedan), and an American Horror Story staple, Sarah Paulson.

As for the show’s big-name men, there’s a couple of those too. John Slatterly (of Mad Men fame) plays Schlafly’s husband, Fred. James Marsden brings congressmen Philip Crane to life.

In 1972 the U.S. Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment. It was then sent to the states to ratify. 38 states were needed to achieve ratification. It looked like it would happen –until Phyllis Schlafly got involved.

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That’s the story Mrs. America tells. It’s powerful on multiple levels, from the acting to the storyline, and that’s what makes it captivating and a total winner.