A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
By presenting a powerful and sympathetic portrait of an important period of American political and cultural history, Mrs. America may make viewers curious to know more about this time and what it was like. Audience members may or may not not agree with the viewpoints of Mrs. Schlafly, but it's hard to argue that she shows extensive perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Mrs. Schlafly is shown as a powerful and principled woman; however, she's also affected by sexism, as when she stifles her political ambitions to pay more attention to her family. This drama takes pains to show us the female domestic workers of color who do much of the housework and cooking at the Schlafly house, even as Phyllis champions homemaking. Regressive messages about women are clearly making a point about the time and place this drama was set, like when a group of women wonder why "pretty" Gloria Steinem can't "find a husband," or when Fred Schlafly says that a successful man will marry "someone much younger -- it's biology."
Violence & Scariness
The focus of this drama is on politics and personal lives, but it takes place during a tense era in American politics, so expect visuals and references to the Vietnam war and divisive and/or violent protests.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Schlafly's attitudes on sex are conservative and favor male privilege over women's which is shown plainly in a scene in which she lies down to have sex with her husband while she clearly doesn't want to; we see her in a bra and half-slip. In another scene, Schlafly models a bikini for a Republican event.
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Language is infrequent, but "ass" makes an appearance and there is some insulting language, like when Gloria Steinem is called "miserable and pathetic."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine and cocktails at gatherings and dinner parties; in one scene, women toast each other with champagne, no one acts drunk. In a brief scene, we see a group of feminists passing around a joint.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mrs. America is a drama about Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), a conservative political and cultural figure who in the 1970s was instrumental in dooming the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly was vilified in her time by some segments of the public for her conservative viewpoints, though this series presents her more sympathetically and sees her as a woman of principle who showed integrity and perseverance. It also has sympathy for the feminists who oppose her, though it makes clear the reasons why they ultimately did not prevail with the ERA. Expect regressive ideas that have not aged well (and are not presented positively) like when Schlafly consents to sex with her husband at his insistence despite not wanting to, and a scene in which a man argues that a successful man wants to marry a "much younger" woman. Violence is infrequent, but given the time period, expect references to and possible visuals of violent protests and the Vietnam War. Language is also infrequent, but "ass" makes an appearance and feminists are frequently mocked and insulted. Adults drink wine at parties and at celebratory moments; no one acts drunk. In one scene, a group of feminists pass a joint around briefly. Though mature content is infrequent, this drama deals with historical events and ideological arguments that require a mature sensibility to understand and enjoy, so teens and up are most likely to be interested in watching with parents.
Is It Any Good?
As a portrait of a complicated woman at a pivotal time and place in American history, this compelling series with its fantastic cast and pacing is a total delight. Viewers who remember Schlafly and the ERA's most newsworthy moment may have a pleasant sensation that they're peeking behind the news headlines from back in the day, but even those too young to remember debates over bra burning will be carried along by the propulsive energy of the drama and the uniformly great performances. Time has also lent a dash of piquant irony to Schlafly's political battle.
But though Blanchett's Schlafly always has a steely-eyed, square-jawed confidence in her viewpoints, Mrs. America doesn't always take her side. Pointedly, the show takes pains to reveal the bustling domestic workers (always women of color, working for white women) who make sure dinner is on the table on time and Schlafly's kids' laundry is done, echoing the criticism during the ERA era that Schlafly spent a lot of time away from her home while advising other women to do otherwise. We also see moments when Schlafly tamps down her ambitions to make way for men: When she's asked to take notes at an otherwise-all-male political meeting; when she rejects a shot to run for Congress after her husband raises concerns about the effect it would have on their family life. What Mrs. America does best is show us a woman who saw life, her own and others, through a filter, and did her best to make the changes she thought important. Whether viewers agree or not is a matter of their own political leanings -- but as a sympathetic look at a woman whose most lasting cultural impact was being (mostly) on the wrong side of history, it's good, fascinating fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.