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I am four episodes into this Hulu/FX miniseries (new installments drop every Wednesday), and I still cannot believe there is a TV show where Rose Byrne has to diffuse a fight between Uzo Aduba and Margo Martindale, and then in an entire other plot, Cate Blanchett is wearing cardigans. Mrs. America—the new nine-parter from Mad Men writer Dahvi Waller—tells the sprawling story of the Equal Rights Amendment with a fairly tight focus on two ideological factions of American women that emerged in its wake. On one side: conservative Illinois firebrand Phyllis Schlafly (an icy, perfect Blanchett) and her army of anti-ERA housewives (Sarah Paulson and Melanie Lynskey among them); on the other, the National Women's Political Caucus, headed up by Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale in what I like to call Some Hats), Gloria Steinem (Byrne, in a wig I cannot stop tweeting about), and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman, wiggéd as well).
I realize how glib it is to say this incredibly moving, nuanced show about American womanhood was made specifically for me, but it feels like this incredibly moving, nuanced show about American womanhood was made specifically for me. Actresses actressing (I have not even MENTIONED Elizabeth Banks as a pearl-clad moderate Republican), needle drops from Etta James to Hair, a cavalcade of wigs that each deserve their own exhaustively sourced oral history. And OK, yes, it's also moving and layered: you never totally sympathize with Blanchett's Schlafly, but Waller refuses to make her a paper-thin Stepford Wife. She's brilliant and power-starved and a worthy adversary for Steinem and co., and Mrs. America shrewdly shows how the same rotten social dynamics can drive women to her side as easily as they might flock to Steinem's—and how those dynamics threaten to collapse both movements. –Conner Reed, Arts & Culture Editor