The FX series Mrs. America is packed with memorable, inspirational figures, but, flawed though they may be, here are our 10 favorites.
The FX miniseries Mrs. America on Hulu was received with critical acclaim. The show was praised by fans and critics for its performances, costumes, and more. With a star-studded ensemble cast, Mrs. America features actors like Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Elizabeth Banks, Uzo Aduba, Sarah Paulson. The show revolves around the Equal Rights Amendment and the Feminist and Anti-feminist movements that emerge.
While mostly drawing from history and factual accounts, the show also mixes in some fiction and fictional characters. All the characters are well fleshed out and three-dimensional. Here are some of the best characters from the show that has many.
Mrs. America begins and ends with Phyllis Schlafly. She is the anti-hero around whom the story is told. While each episode focuses on a different character, Phyllis is still more or less the one who takes up most of the time on the show. I
t is from her perspective that many things are shown, and it is about her and her family that viewers learn more. She could easily be called the main character of this show, even though it is quite evident that viewers aren’t supposed to sympathize with her.
Phyllis Schlafly is able to go around the country, advancing her political career and ambitions because Eleanor Schlafly is at home taking care of the kids. She’s the one who takes Phyllis’ kids to their piano lessons, to their swimming lessons, who picks them up from school, and more.
Phyllis doesn’t even acknowledge this, forget thank Eleanor for her dedication towards her children. What Phyllis doesn’t see or appreciate is the fact that it has been Eleanor who has been silently picking up the slack.
The amazingly strong Lawyer goes head to head with Phyllis on a couple’s debate on television. Phyllis is known for her argumentative style, but Brenda completely destroys her because of her actual knowledge on the subject. Brenda is a character who is experimenting, trying to figure herself out. Brenda and Marc are not a traditional couple, and that becomes very evident soon.
She is an interesting character who reappears as a solid voice of reason on several occasions. Her attempts to understand herself and accept herself are also very sensitively shown.
The “mother” of the feminist movement, the spunky and snarky Betty Frieden is a really interesting character. She is sidelined a lot in the feminist movement and makes clear her frustration about it. She argumentative, feisty, and is more or less bitter about the fact that the media fawns over Gloria Steinem and centers the movement around her. Her principles are not as progressive as the other feminist leaders of the time, and so she is downplayed on stage so as to not exclude anyone from the growing movement.
Niecy Nash plays this fun yet strong and powerful black feminist leader. She is someone who understands the importance of a safe space for everyone. Appearing in multiple episodes, Flo makes her stance clear: “Lesbians are welcome, horizontal hostility is not.”
Flo is also one of the black feminist leaders who believed that they could work along with the white feminists to further the overall feminist cause. A very caring and kind character who is welcoming towards everyone, Niecy Nash plays Flo with the vigor deserving of a character like this.
Elizabeth Banks plays this proud Republican Feminist leader. One of the main Republican leaders of the feminist movement who is pro-ERA and pro-choice, this character is known for her charming and bipartisan ways. She was appointed the chair of a White House Commission relating to Women’s Rights as she’s “as American as apple pie.”
Viewers witness the struggles of this strong character, as she has to appease the men in charge to get anything done. Viewers will sympathize with her deliberate attempts to make palatable the women’s movement for everyone.
As one of the main leaders of the movement, along with Gloria Steinem, Mrs. America shows Bella Abzug with all her flaws. On various occasions, viewers witness the failings of Bella Abzug. As someone who wanted to somehow get things done, Bella was someone who was willing to compromise on her principles.
She supports McGovern instead of Shirley Chisholm, doesn’t throw her weight behind the harassment scandal, and was willing to wait before pushing abortion and gay rights to the front. Her flaws and failings are important to understand this character and to understand her ability to get people to still believe in her.
Rose Byrne plays Gloria Steinem in a manner that is enchanting. The essence of the character, her style, her way of talking, are all captured beautifully on the show. The growth of this character and her leadership and responsibilities are shown in Mrs. America.
Gloria Steinem’s media savviness and her sometimes exclusionary rhetoric are also shown. Her importance to the cause and her role in the feminist movement also steadily increases. The character is shown as someone with great empathy, and that makes her an easily likable character on the show.
A revolutionary figure and one of many firsts, Shirley Chisholm is played by Uzo Aduba. Shirley is shown with all the strength, precision of speech, principles, and paranoia that she is known for. She is failed by both the feminist movement and the black caucus as her Presidential run becomes more symbolic than anything without the firm support that she thought she would get.
Her consistent and relentless efforts to use her position to impact the lives of the women working in Washington is incredible.
This fictional character played by Sarah Paulson is used by the showrunners to represent the many women of the time. Alice is a housewife who knows nothing more than her home and her family. But she, along with many housewives, is manipulated to come out on the streets and in politics to simply further the political ambitions of people like Phyllis Schlafly.
Alice’s slow growth and change, her understanding of situations and things better, and her willingness to listen showed the potentiality of this amazingly well-performed character.