Mrs. America is set to be a unique show on an issue many are familiar with—amid the attempted ratification of the Equal Rights Movement, a woman named Phyllis Schlafly, a noted anti-feminist and conservative leader, urged conservative women to turn against the ERA’s ratification, arguing that it would lead to women being drafted into the military and forced into the workforce (of which they had no developed skills for), and that the ERA only benefited young, educated women with careers. “I am for Mom and apple pie,” she would adopt as a slogan, upholding the very gender roles second-wave feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem wanted to abolish.
Well, Schlafly’s plan worked. Despite bipartisan support for the ERA, her attack on feminism led to only 35 of the required 38 states ratifying the act, meaning it would not be adopted into the Constitution and states would not have to incorporate it. To this day, the ERA is still not included in the Constitution’s amendments—in 2017, Nevada ratified it past the supposed 1982 deadline, and Illinois followed in 2018. In other words, there is continued relevance to the ERA’s existence.
That what Mrs. America is concerned with exploring. Through the lens of Schlafly, played by the always-brilliant Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America is a show on how conservative ideals and female leadership led to the rise of the Christian “Moral Majority.” In opposition to those second-wave thinkers such as Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), Schlafly found no “mystique” to the feminine role—and she fought to make sure no one else did, either. The trailers highlight this “fight” Schlafly led, and attempts to juxtapose it against the women that were fighting for women’s liberation: Their fights manifested in similar ways, yet they desired inherently different outcomes.
The show will also star Sarah Paulson, Margo Martindale as New York Representative Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Banks as feminist White House assistant Jill Ruckelshaus, and John Slattery opposite Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly’s husband, Fred Schlafly. Mrs. America is set to premiere on FX on April 15. Check out both the teasers below.