'Mrs America' Episode 8 Preview: Alice, Phyllis Schlafly’s oldest ally, will question their anti-ERA movement
We’ve already witnessed the relationship between Schlafly and Alice, her closest confidant in their movement, souring somewhat over the course of the show
FX’s biographical miniseries ‘Mrs. America' is nearing its end. Episode 8 of the series is titled ‘Houston’ and it is the first one in the show that goes against the theme of titles.
All seven episodes so far have been named after the people involved in either the second-wave feminist movement in the ‘70 in the U.S. who were trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified or the names of those against it, like Phyllis Schlafly, played by Cate Blanchett in the series.
'Houston', a city in Texas, thus, is an outlier. According to IMDb’s synopsis of the episode, “Alice, Rosemary and Pamela cross into enemy territory at the National Women's Conference in Houston, where they come face-to-face with feminist leaders.”
From November 18 to November 21, 1977, close to 20,000 people (of which almost 2,000 were delegates) took part in the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, chaired by Congresswoman Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale).
Houston is largely believed to have been chosen for the fateful conference because it was one of the only cities in the U.S. that, according to Houstonia magazine, had created a position for a women’s advocate to watch over female interests in city business. The conference was meant to unite women and give them an opportunity to voice their concerns.
Instead, as per the Smithsonian magazine, the conference became a battleground, with Schlafly declaring it to be “Federal financing of a foolish festival for frustrated feminists”.
Schlafly led a counter-rally of 15,000 supporters -- largely white conservative Christian women, evangelicals, and Mormons -- about five miles from the National Women’s Conference. Their rally included pronouncements against abortion, gay rights, and, of course, the Equal Rights Amendment. It was a watershed moment that took Schlafly’s movement to a level of national fame (or notoriety, depending on what side you’re on) that was unprecedented.
Coming back to the episode, Alice Macray (Sarah Paulson), Rosemary Thomson (Melanie Lynskey), and Pamela (Kayli Carter) were three of Schafly’s most trusted lieutenants in the anti-ERA battle. But they were also participants of the National Women's Conference, unlike Schlafly, as we saw in episode 7 of the series.
We’ve witnessed the relationship between Schlafly and Alice, her closest confidant in their movement, souring somewhat over the course of the show. Would this add to that? The short promo for the episode seems to suggest that.
In the promo, when Schlafly asks Alice if the conference was awful, she says, “It was umm… something.”
The rest of the promo hints at one thing though. This is Alice’s episode. We see her, a shy housewife who has no public speaking skills (not even a fraction of Schlafly’s) fumble an interview with the press. We see her being blamed by Rosemary for making them look like idiots. We see her screaming. We see her being awestruck with Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne). But most importantly, we see her asking her compatriots, “I came here to defend myself. But I have to ask, who is attacking us?”
Are we soon to see an Alice-Schlafly showdown? Fingers crossed.
'Mrs. America' drops new episodes every Wednesday on Hulu.