Saturday, May 23, 2020

What I’m Watching: Mrs. America (Penultimate Episode)

Mrs. America: Season 1, Episode 8 “Houston” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what to make of this episode’s title originally since it’s the first one that isn’t someone’s name. I thought it would be a great chance to see all of the characters we’ve met so far converging in one place, and while it was that to a degree, it was also a very worthwhile opportunity to get to see some of the women who have been in the background for most of the show. I had wondered why it was that Sarah Paulson, who has seven Emmy nominations, had such a small role, and now it made sense since she got a major spotlight here. It’s true that this show’s primary weakness is a lack of objective sympathy for the conservative women it portrays, but that didn’t make this episode, or Paulson’s performance, any less compelling. After Alice’s poor performance on camera, her drunken stupor led to some powerful moments, including her belting out what Flo pointed out to her was a Marxist song and Gloria simply complimenting what she was wearing when she failed to deliver the masterful takedown she had been preparing. Having Phyllis ask her only about Gloria and then tell her to fix her face was demeaning, and Rosemary’s treatment of her was far from kind. I was also very impressed with Kayli Carter’s performance in this episode as Pamela. Carter turned in a strong performance in the film “Private Life” as a prospective surrogate whose politics likely align much more with Pamela at the end of the convention than the person she was at the start. As dramatized here, the convention was a very moving event, full of significant interactions and developments that managed to really bring diverse people together, including Betty with her unexpected endorsement of protections for lesbians.

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