When a TV show combines legendary real-life women with the historical struggle for gender equality along with some truly killer costumes, you can’t help but sit up and pay attention.
Mrs America, the BBC miniseries that spotlights women on both sides of America’s vicious sex equality war in the 1970s, is must-watch viewing for this summer.
With Cate Blanchett in the role of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, the brains behind the anti-Equal Rights Amendment, and Rose Byrne playing her nemesis, the feminist pin-up Gloria Steinem, the nine-part series is in equal parts rousing and infuriating.
It zooms in on some of the most pivotal moments in the hard-fought struggle for abortion and other women’s rights in the 1970s, and – more vitally – the forgotten group of self-styled housewives who led a backlash against these rights.
The show co-stars a formidable set of actors – many of whom are real-life feminists – including Uzo Aduba, Tracey Ullman, Sarah Paulson and Elizabeth Banks.
Below are some behind-scene photos of this remarkable crew hanging out together on-set for Mrs America, from filming takes to backstage make-up, post-wrap parties and more.
Just as exciting as the cast itself is the amazing styling and cinematography. Mrs America celebrates 1970s fashion at its zenith, whether that’s twin-sets and pearls or the more cutting-edge looks of the feminist revolution.
Without further ado, come take an inside look at the show that everyone’s talking about right now:
Becoming Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem’s iconic look was recreated with meticulous attention to detail in Mrs America, thanks to original photos from the era of second-wave feminism. This image from the make-up room shows just how close actor Rose Byrne came to mirroring the real deal.
The singular Phyllis Schlafly
Phyllis Schlafly’s hair was as rigid and unforgiving as her political views. Here’s Cate Blanchett getting into character, with an army of make-up artists on-hand to help (well that healthy coating of blue shadow won’t apply itself…).
In tribute to Shirley Chisholm
You may recognise actor Uzo Aduba as “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black. She switches tack entirely in Mrs America to play Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress in 1968, and the first Black woman to run for president.
In the caption below, Aduba pays tribute to a politician who lived by the slogan “unbought and unbossed” – despite a myriad of pressures that faced her as she balanced the Black vote with the women’s vote during her tumultuous time in office.
A dream team of women
Only an incredible group of actors could do justice to the strong-as-hell women who are brought to life in Mrs America: women on both sides of the battle for equal rights.
Luckily, the casting directors for Mrs America got the brief just right, lining up a standout group of names from stage and screen to take on some of history’s most notorious political figures.
The photos below show just how much fun the likes of Tracey Ullman (who plays feminist icon Betty Friedan), Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Paulson and Cate Blanchett had while hanging out together.
The Mrs America filming process
As well as a stellar cast, Mrs America brought together a great group of people on the production side of filming. These included Emmy Award-winning writer Dahvi Waller, and co-directors Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Amma Asante, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre and Janicza Bravo.
Here are some behind-scenes snippets from that team, along with a “pinch me I’m dreaming” day at work for one of the show’s leads, Rose Byrne, as she captured the full scope of her co-star talent in early filming for the drama.
All hail the “supersisters”
Last but not least, no mention of Mrs America could go without a nod to the huge research effort that went into capturing our sisters of second-wave feminism: the women who fought so hard for the rights some of us still battle for today.
Here’s actor Kayli Carter, who plays a young member of Phyllis Schlafly’s anti-ERA movement in the show, unearthing some 1970s playing cards that heroize her on-screen opponents.
Long may the principles of these feted “women of achievement” live on.
Images: Instagram, Twitter and BBC/FX/Sabrina Lantos