Saturday, April 18, 2020

Round Two: Mrs. America

Mrs. America: Season 1, Episode 2 “Gloria” (B+)

I’m making an effort to watch all three of the first episodes of this show right away, since I always find it overwhelming to stay up-to-date with Hulu’s offerings when they launch with three episodes at once and then pale down to one a week. This episode was a strong follow-up to the first, retaining the focus on Phyllis and her conservative world while spending a good deal of time with its new protagonist, Gloria Steinem. My issue with the first episode was less prominent here since Phyllis didn’t encounter as much sexism from her own peers, and instead got confronted both by a journalist and by some of her ideological rivals about whether she understood constitutional law and could back up what she was saying, namely her claim that the ERA would lead to unisex bathrooms and women being drafted to the military. Her husband’s advice was appropriate, that she never wanted to present an argument that was objectively and verifiably false, and that’s led to a modern-day sentiment of making statements with no supporting evidence that nonetheless can’t be outright refuted. Elizabeth Banks’ Jill Ruckelshaus is another intriguing figure, representing a subset of the women’s rights movement that doesn’t share the majority’s overly liberal sensibilities. The spotlight on Gloria was interesting, though I experienced much of what happened here in a film that premiered at Sundance, “The Glorias,” which had four different actresses playing the famed icon. I like the casting of Rose Byrne in the role here, and was also happy to see Jay Ellis from “Insecure” as her boyfriend Franklin Thomas. I’m pleased with the storytelling style here and will continue watching this historical narrative.

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