Monday, May 11, 2020

What I’m Watching: Mrs. America

Mrs. America: Season 1, Episode 6 “Jill” (B+)

This may have been the most interesting installment yet, looking at a woman who doesn’t fall squarely within one camp and as a result has more to talk about it with the other side than everyone else. Elizabeth Banks has barely been featured thus far as the main Republican heading up the pro-ERA camp, and she’s a pretty fascinating character. Her marriage arrangement is most similar to that of Brenda and Marc, with relative equality between them that only becomes an issue when one of them pushes hard in a way that might affect that dynamic. I was struggling to recognize the actor who played Jill’s husband – a problem I’ve experienced with most of the male actors – and I now see that it was Josh Hamilton from “Eighth Grade.” His potential vice presidential bid made Jill’s activities objectionable for his backers, something that did not make Jill happy at all. Seeing how she was able to appeal to conservatives with Bella and Shirley staying silent by her side was very intriguing, and it’s in part because she was willing to accept certain behavior that they would balk at, and which Shirley tried to expose with unfortunately no consequences in a very pre-#metoo era. Jill meeting Phyllis was a fascinating encounter, which at first was full of biting exchanges but then turned very sour when Phyllis flat-out said that many of the secretaries and other women who endured sexual harassment were inviting it. Stop ERA being defeated at the Republican National Convention even after Phyllis partnered with someone who made her look liberal was a monumental development, but not nearly as emphatic and unforgettable as a degrading and crude sexual humor being shared while Phyllis was there before she was explicitly told to stop pursuing her most important issue. This series truly has many dimensions, and it’s an incredible look at a wide spectrum of similar experiences happening to many different people.

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