FX on Hulu won’t have the final word on conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.
“Mrs. America,” which debuts its first three episodes today on the streaming platform, recalls Schlafly’s successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment.
Early reviews suggest the 9-part series paints the social conservative in a most unflattering light.
Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, an executive producer on the project, takes center stage as Schlafly. The series covers far more than the pro-life leader, though. We also meet Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale), Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman).
These powerful women collide, argue and debate the merits of both the ERA and feminism in the late 20th century. The series is “based on true events,” according to Hulu.
Early reviews describe a prolonged assault on the woman it dubs “Mrs. America.” The far left Hollywood Reporter says the series casts Schlafly as more than merely a hiss-worthy conservative.
Destined for the series’ Emmy reel are the many scenes in which Schlafly, in encountering the proud racists, murderous homophobes and anti-papal evangelicals whose numbers she needs but whose stances she can’t publicly support or personally abide, tries and fails to twist her face into something resembling polite disagreement. Blanchett lets the contempt show.
Other critics depict a balance portrait, saying the series grants Schlafly some of her humanity.
Mrs. America is not exactly a sympathetic portrait of Phyllis Schlafly, but it is at pains to put these speeches into the mouth of its protagonist, to humanize her and paint her as a woman who triumphs over adversity and sees what women are really up against.
The series, from “Mad Men” creator Dahvi Waller, gets a strong rebuttal from “Red Pilled America” starting today.
The right-leaning podcast spins stories the mainstream media won’t touch. That’s likely true again with its latest episode, a look at Schlafly’s life story.
The hosts, Patrick Courrielche and Adryana Cortez, dub the episode “counter-programming” to the Hulu series.
“Through our research, we believe the show’s creators intend to misrepresent Phyllis Schlafly’s life experiences and soil her legacy,” Cortez says. “This can be seen in the limited video clips that have been released and the interviews they’ve given.”
The hosts note “Mrs. America’s” creators didn’t seek out Schlafly’s children or the organization she created, the Eagle Forum, to learn more about her life and legacy. Anne Schlafly Cori told this reporter she attempted to contact the production with no luck.
Cortez notes that “Mrs. America’s” executive producers Stacey Sher (“Pulp Fiction”) and Blanchett (“Carol,” “I’m Not There”) both benefited from now-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein over the years.
“The irony that those two individuals are involved in a character assassination of a female conservative icon is not lost on us,” she says.
Sher opened up about her political leanings and her involvement in “Mrs. America” in a Variety guest column.
There is a direct link between the anti-ERA housewives and the women who felt disrespected by Hillary Clinton asking if people expected her to “stay home and bake cookies….”
Finally, it is utterly incomprehensible that enshrining these simple words — “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex” — in the Constitution is still so controversial.
Cortez fears the film will dissuade viewers from an actual role model -- Schlafly herself.
“Her life story is the canvas that speaks to the fact that women can have it all – family and career. Phyllis understood perfectly that our value is tied directly to the fact that we are women, not men,” she says. “We will not stand by and allow Hollywood to tarnish her good name and via Red Pilled America strive to counter the narratives that seek to rewrite history.”