The twice Oscar-winning Cate Blacnhett is making her debut in American television via Ms. America, a new limited series ordered by FX that is painfully timeless. Set during the second wave feminism of the 1970s, the nine-episode series will track the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment that proposed offering constitutional protection in the workplace. Designed to guarantee women the ability not to be discriminated against by employers and co-workers on the basis of their sex, the Equal Rights Amendment seemed like a no-brainer that was ultimately destroyed by a virulent opposition, led in part by conservative public figure Phyllis Schlafly, the role which Blanchett will play.
The development of the series is a major coup for FX. Again showing the changing of the times, acting royalty like Blanchett is taking a project that could easily be pitched as an Oscar-friendly movie to television, where it will get nine hours and presumably the budget needed to tell its adult and frustratingly contemporary story in the wake of the #MeToo movement. As with this fall’s limited series on Netflix, Maniac, which starred Oscar winner Emma Stone and Oscar nominee Jonah Hill, these types of limited series point to a continued blurring of lines between film and television.
Blanchett will executive produce the series alongside Davhi Waller, Stacey Sher, and Coco Franchini. The Emmy-winning Waller (who worked on Mad Men) will also write and act as showrunner of the series as producer, alongside Sher who also is credited as producer.
“I feel privileged to have this opportunity to collaborate with Dahvi, Stacey and Coco under the robust and fearless FX umbrella,” Blanchett said in a statement. “I am extremely excited about delving into the material as there couldn’t be a more appropriate time to peel back the layers of this recent period of history, which couldn’t be more relevant today.”
Indeed, it appears the series will draw a direct line between the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment and the ever starker “culture wars” of today. The series also may feature as characters second wave feminist icons like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and Jill Ruckelshaus.
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