Saturday, April 25, 2020

What I’m Watching: Mrs. America

Mrs. America: Season 1, Episode 4 “Betty” (B+)

Of the women portrayed on this show, Betty Friedan is definitely close to a loose cannon, but this episode featuring her most prominently was perfectly focused. The debate was with Phyllis, but her rivalry with Gloria was also spotlighted, resulting in an olive branch from Gloria at the end in the form of a phone call acknowledging how much of a mentor and inspiration Gloria considered her to be. Phyllis training with her husband for the debate was very informative, and I love how Betty accidentally met Fred when she bumped into him on her way out of the bathroom. Betty established an early lead on the stage when she attacked Phyllis for referring to the audience as girls rather than women, but things got out of control when she lost her temper and told Phyllis that she’d love to burn her at the stake. Many attendees still felt that she performed well and wanted autographs, but it’s understandable that she just needed to retreat. One of the most compelling elements of this show continues to be its examination of the intersection of many sub-movements within both the feminist and anti-feminist causes, with lesbians inside the black power movement and white supremacists with the Stop ERA group popping up in this episode. Gloria and everyone else in the office getting sexually harassed by phone was an unfortunate development, but not all efforts to derail their cause have to be in the form of serious arguments or protests, as such behavior can be both alienating and dispiriting.

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