'Mrs America’ Episode 8: Sarah Paulson’s remarkable performance when Alice meets Gloria leaves fans in tears
Spoilers for ‘Mrs. America’ episode 8, ‘Houston’
Episode 8 of the FX biographical miniseries ‘Mrs. America’, titled ‘Houston’, revolves around the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, held from November 18 to November 21, 1977. The episode focuses on Sarah Paulson’s character Alice Macray, a friend of Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) and her earliest supporter in the so-called war against the Equal Rights Amendment.
Even though the title did not have her name, Alice defined the story with her self-doubt and missteps. She fumbled an interview with the media, she did drugs (the person who gave them to her called them “Christian Pills”), she got lost, she saw the people who she was against up-close, and she realized the wrongs in the politics of the Eagle Forum and Schlafly.
For a character who has so far been shown as the timid housewife -- a yes-person to Schlafly -- Alice’s newfound growth was remarkable to witness. As was the battle she engaged with her conditioning and indoctrinated beliefs.
Fans of the show couldn’t stop gushing about Paulson’s performance in the episode, with many noting that this episode would surely win her an Emmy Award. One fan wrote on Twitter, “The latest episode of #MrsAmerica was amazing and I cried multiple times including the entirety of the last five minutes. I’ll probably watch it again to really understand my feelings, but when Alice stood up at the end I wanted to hug her.”
Another wrote, “Sarah Paulson wants another Emmy and I say give it to her for ‘Mrs. America’ E8. She drops acid at a convention and goes through about 50 different emotions. My favorite episode so far.”
Fans largely appreciated the internal conflict of Alice and how it was executed on screen. It was done without any inner monologue. Rather it was shown through her interactions with people she ignorantly thought were bad. Perhaps one of the most touching moments on the show is when she apologizes to Margaret ‘Midge’ Costanza (Annie Parisse), a gay feminist activist after the latter discovers a poster Alice had put up. The poster was anti-LGBTQIA propaganda titled, ‘Mommy, when I grow up, can I be a lesbian?’ Paulson’s regret in her tears and her quiet and earnest apology was a breathtaking moment.
A fan wrote on Twitter, “This growth! I loved this episode. Can’t believe next week is the finale. #MrsAmerica has been an utter gift. A truly perfect season of television. Thank you Hulu. I hope this show sweeps the awards and I hope the writers make more incredible content like this! I will watch!”
But many also found a parallel between Sarah Paulson’s character and her real self hilarious. When she was tripping on the “Christian pill”, Alice was hungry and for some reason, she couldn’t find any food. She would constantly say, “I am very hungry,” something that seems to be true to Paulson in real life -- her Twitter bio reads, “Always hungry.”
Another thing that fans could not help but comment on was just how enamored Alice was with Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne). Both under the influence of narcotics and sober, it was clear that what Alice felt when she saw Steinem was more than intimidation. It was awe, admiration, fear, and something that can’t be expressed in words perhaps.
“This episode of #MrsAmerica was so powerful, I’ve never cried so much as I did watching it!” wrote one of the many fans of the show who expressed the same sentiments. What better compliment for a show can exist?
'Mrs. America' drops new episodes every Wednesday on Hulu.