While Waller was amazed at the amount of books these women wrote and had written about them, the show itself was not based on any on specific piece of existing property. Sabrina Lantos/FX, probes the knotty internal struggles of both the feminist and anti-feminist movements. She was not a homemaker who rose up and got other homemakers to the fight the Equal Rights Amendment. America” still are, Waller acknowledges that some audiences might “judge these women in terms of where we are today. I wanted to have the freedom to really explore different perspectives. That said, one of the greatest lessons I got from working on the series is we’re never as far ahead as we think we are. The series also plunges into the messy relationship between Steinem and Friedan. That’s the great thing about limited: you can get actors who can’t commit to five years. Mrs. America might just turn out to be an intro to contemporary women’s history class for the streaming generation. “When I set out to staff a writers’ room I look to have a very diverse room in where they’re from, gender, sexuality, race, everything,” Waller says. The result was, …the Policy Council of the National Women’s Political Caucus (1971–77), she actively opposed the Vietnam War and worked to improve economic conditions in Mississippi. The word intersectionality hadn’t been coined at that point, though Frances M. Beal had already written about the idea of double jeopardy—but how did you try to draw that thread through the series? [Laughs bitterly]. At the same time, the women’s liberation movement had sent its first warning shots across the bow of mainstream America. I think you can really look at that Democratic convention in 1972, where Shirley Chisholm was running for president, as the very beginning. This was to soak up as much knowledge as possible — “There is so much richness and you do feel an obligation to represent them in a responsible way,” Waller says — but also to realize where there might be biases or gaps in the existing storytelling. Waller spent two years in development with “Mrs. Whisking us from 1971 all the way to 1980, the series probes the knotty internal struggles of both the feminist and anti-feminist movements. And Gloria—every man wanted to marry her. She hadn’t quite emerged as the iconic Gloria Steinem we think of today…. But it also has a contemporary resonance, capturing the early days of the culture wars that rage on to this day: Schlafly’s army of homemakers, proud to fulfill their conventional, Bible–assigned roles anticipate the deplorable-and-proud-of-it red-state Americans of our present. But Schlafly found an outlet for her own ambition in weaponizing the anxiety of homemakers who resented what they saw as the condescension of college-educated liberal women. I think what excited us was her backstory. “Some of us will be very angered by Betty’s actions and some of us will be very angered by Phyllis’ actions. You wrote for Mad Men, and I remember an episode you cowrote [“The Beautiful Girls”] in which Peggy comes in contact with the women’s liberation movement of this period. The new FX on Hulu limited series Mrs. America begins in 1971—an era when a woman couldn’t apply for a credit card on her own, marital rape was legal, and abortion was a crime. “What’s most important to me is that they have strong empathy because when you have strong empathy you are able to get inside the mind of a character who might be completely opposite, ideologically. And when we started this series and I discovered that she founded the National Women’s Political Caucus along with Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan, I was equally puzzled. So I love subverting and changing how we think about a time period. You know, I remember seeing Ms. magazine around our house, and she was the most famous feminist I knew of. Can These Execs Save ViacomCBS’ Storied Cable Brands? Variety and the Flying V logos are trademarks of Variety Media, LLC. She’s so pretty!” Because there was this negative stereotype that feminists were bitter and single and childless, and no one wanted to marry them. And they immediately got it. When were working on episode two and three where Gloria’s pushing for abortion rights, one of the notes we got [from executives] was: how are viewers going to really relate to the stakes of it? From the awards race to the box office, with everything in between: get the entertainment industry's must-read newsletter. While she thinks that is an “exciting conversation to be having,” the writers had to strip their political alignments and judgments from their writing process. “The best you can do is look at all of the primary sources, go very deep, and then you have to trust your interpretation of what happened — and recognize that your interpretation of what they wrote might be different than theirs, and that’s OK,” Waller says. From Phyllis Schlafly to Gloria Steinem to Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan, the women depicted in FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. We tend to paint our heroes as larger than life. Having written for two high-end period dramas (Mad Men and Halt and Catch Fire), Waller was looking for an unusual angle on 1970s feminism, and Schlafly became her counterintuitive way in. From Phyllis Schlafly to Gloria Steinem to Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan, the women depicted in FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. Feminist writers and activists like Betty Friedan, Flo Kennedy, and Gloria Steinem became familiar faces on popular talk shows and in magazines. But that level of “detail I put in the script because I thought that really helps get a character from the inside out — not how the public sees the character, but how they truly are in private.”. I grew up thinking of Gloria Steinem as this feminist icon. I learned so much from being in that writer’s room. And that’s why it was really important to me to make this an ensemble piece, and to Cate as well. Of course, she really wanted to be taken seriously; she didn’t want to be just the pretty face of the movement. A former scribe of “Mad Men” and “Halt and Catch Fire,” Waller is certainly no stranger to period dramas. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. We pitched it back in 2015 as a different way into the ’70s and the women’s movement, from the point of view of the villain—the spoiler of the Equal Rights Amendment. We really approached all of the characters, whether we agree with them or not, with compassion and trying to understand where they are coming from and the appeal they had to so many women.”. There’s no danger of Mrs. America failing the Bechdel Test as it introduces us to Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), the first African American woman elected to Congress, who ran for president in 1972; The Feminine Mystique author and National Organization for Women (NOW) cofounder Friedan (Tracey Ullman); politician Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale), whose first campaign slogan was, “This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives!”; brilliant lawyer and rabble-rouser Flo Kennedy (Niecy Nash); and Ms. magazine cofounder Steinem (Rose Byrne). Within a few months, literally, I was like: I think it’s going to be very relatable, unfortunately.