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Series / Mrs. America

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"They say that women are like tea bags; you don't know their strength until they get into hot water."
Phyllis Schlafly

Mrs. America is a 2020 mini-series developed by FX that aired on sister streaming service Hulu. The series revolves around the 1970s fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment that eventually came up three states short of ratification note  because of the work by a woman named Phyllis Schlafly. Cate Blanchett stars as Schlafly and the show is created and developed by Canadian writer Dahvi Waller.

The series starts in 1971 and the aftermath of the 1970 midterms when the Republican Party is in its weakest Congressional position since the height of The Great Depression. Schlafly gets brought in to help the party reorganize. A defense expert by trade, Schlafly gets embroiled in the fight against the ERA when she decides to run for Congress again. The party wants to give some sort of concession to the feminist movement (the ERA was officially introduced that same year) but Schlafly makes it her life's mission to stop it. The rest is history.

The rest of the main cast is rounded out by Rose Byrne as ERA proponent/feminist activist Gloria Steinem, Uzo Aduba as Representative Shirley Chisholm (the first black woman ever elected to Congress), and Elizabeth Banks as Republican ERA supporter Jill Ruckelshaus.

Mrs. America provides examples of:

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  • '50s Hair: Gloria averts this in her flashback with chin length wavy and straight hair but Betty had this going on on her 1960s appearance on The Tonight Show wearing pearls and a blue cocktail dress with violet floral print. The same episode shows Betty's research on Phyllis with a fake cover of her book A Choice Not An Echo with Phyllis with darker hair in a similar style. In general, most of the STOP ERA housewives have a take on those styles.
  • '60s Hair: Much of the housewives and a few of the adult feminists start out with their hair looking like this at the beginning of the series, with Jill having a full helmet of dirty blonde hair.
  • '70s Hair: The bouffants and updos sported by Jill, Phyllis, Rosemary, and Shirley (along with the STOP ERA followers) that are holdovers from the 1960s, Gloria's and Alice's glossy long locks, Phil Crane's dry look, the girls' haircuts at the mother-daughter luncheon, the afros and cornrows of black feminists, Betty Friedan's shag cut, and a young college student's Dorothy Hamill cut. In general, most of the ERA feminists have these styles.
  • '80s Hair: "Reagan" which opens up in 1979 and ends in the early 1980s, shows Rosemary with tight curls and Phyllis with a frizzy brown wig while Jill's and Gloria's hair maintain their 60s-70s style but more updated with some feathering.
  • Abusive Parents: Phyllis to the closeted John and the aquaphobic Anne, even forcibly pulling the girl by her wrist to go swimming.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: The young looking Alice who has two daughters (one teenager and and another a preteen) and a young adult son who gets married in "Betty" and gives her two grandsons by 1979. Justified as Alice was likely in her early 20s when she had him (she married at 19) and he's around the same age as John Schlafly; it seems to be a familial trait as her mother is north of middle age and nearing senior citizen status in "Houston" and is a great-grandmother and it's implied they lost Alice's grandmother by 1977.
    • The thirty-something Jacquie Davison is a grandmother herself and proud of being a grandmother when she is barely past her 35th birthday.
  • Actually Quite Catchy: Discussed when Eleanor mentions that her Moral Guardians crusade against Hair was always doomed to fail because they did have two very catchy songs.
  • Age-Gap Algebra: Phyllis (b. 1924) and Fred (b. 1909), he even said that "it's biology" that men will get a younger wife after their first one and said that when he was getting active in far-right politics against FDR she was only "in saddle shoes".
  • Aloof Big Brother: The sexist Fred to his younger sister Eleanor in "Phyllis" when Fred dismisses the idea of introducing a divorced colleague to his single sister because she is "too old for the guy" (despite being only a few years younger than the guy in question) and how it's "biology" for men to want a much younger wife. In short, Fred doesn't soften his sexism and narrow-minded callousness with even his sister or wife.
  • Alter Kocker: The middle-aged Bella and Betty, both of whom are of Jewish descent, tend to talk like this and pepper their language with Yiddish words. Justified for both their heritage and of their generation of Jewish Americans.
  • Always Someone Better: Gloria according to Betty. Betty wrote the book that more or less set off the 2nd Wave of Feminism and questioned women's roles in American society but Gloria is more famous due to her calmer demeanor, miniskirts, and beauty. Even her blind date brings up Gloria's popularity and beauty in a date.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Interestingly in the STOP ERA organization, there are at least two examples (in contrast to Alice and Pamela who want to protect the status quo of their roles and feel changing trends for women threaten it):
    • Phyllis, who has run for Congress a few times and lost and even as a lobbyist in D.C. she still hasn't been taken seriously by her male peers. She decides to fight against the ERA as to gain favor with her right-wing male colleagues and influence the country with her politics, Alice and Pamela (to a lesser extent) start to catch on to that.
    • Rosemary, who appears to be a ditzy woman who just wants to be a privileged housewife, has no problem being promoted over Alice and even taking Phyllis's place in some leadership roles and shows an apathy to her more sympathetic friends.
  • And Starring: Sarah Paulson gets this honor in the opening credits, likely because she is the most well known actress in the cast that isn't playing a real life historical figure.
  • "Angry Black Man" Stereotype: The talk that Eleanor's Bible Study group (who'd later join STOP ERA) have about the Attica Prison Riots which comprised of Black and Brown inmates rioting after being denied healthcare and having been brutalized, Shirley Chisholm and Flo Kennedy supporting Angela Davis (along with Gloria Steinem) smacks of this. This scene serves to show that the women (not even Alice) are as tolerant about race as they like to think they are and how far removed they are from the lives of people of color.
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Alice poses this to the STOP ERA booth after a night where she met some feminists and talked with them and joined them in activities and witnessed Gloria and Audrey having a meeting with other feminists (especially of color), asking if they can't try to find some consensus with the feminist movement like minority rights, education, and employment. She is swiftly ignored by Rosemary and the others.
    Alice: I came here to defend myself, but I have to ask: who is attacking us?
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In "Reagan", Alice hasn't been involved with STOP ERA as she was helping with her grandsons and stops being Phyllis's friend after she told the young and abused Pamela to obey her husband (and after finding out that Phyllis is a power-hungry, manipulative hypocrite who twists facts and questions and isn't above exploiting her peers' prejudices and fears) and after telling her off at her own gala where Phyllis decides to troll feminists (Bella and Gloria, whom Alice has met) and neglects to credit Eleanor with the raising of her children; Alice soon gets a job as a 411 operator (and wears a pantsuit!) and tells Phyllis she is empowered by having her own money.
    Phyllis: You used to feel empowered by me.
    Alice: I used to feel scared.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Waller, the show runner, has admitted that some of Phyllis's rhetoric was embellished to make her seem a little more hardcore against the ERA than she actually was.
    • While it was true that there were rumors circulating of Phil Crane and his wife Arlene having extramarital affairs (a comment from Phil to Phyllis implies that Arlene vets the young women he sleeps with before they enter the house), the series does imply that Phil and Phyllis are having a Will They or Won't They? emotional affair, something that hasn't come up.
    • The National Women's Political Caucus did consist of Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan, Brenda Feigen-Fasteau, and Bella Abzug but the series neglects to mention that Flo Kennedy was a founder and also there were two other founders, labor activist Mildred Jeffrey and voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
    • While Brenda Feigen did sleep with a woman during her marriage to Marc Fasteau, the woman was not a photographer named Jules.
    • The pie thrown to Phyllis wasn't a cream pie but an apple pie, but Phyllis really did say that she was glad it wasn't cherry pie.
    • As noted by Transgender viewers, the dated attitudes towards transgender people and the "bathroom panic" of the STOP ERA movement were not mentioned.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In the first episode, Alice and Phyllis caution a pregnant Pamela against formula feeding her baby because the baby won't get enough nutrients and it would help her keep her weight down. This was to show how this misinformation went way back all the way to the 1960s (when Phyllis and Alice had their youngest children and when breastfeeding became socially acceptable for affluent white women like they) and showcase how Phyllis partially believes the lies she feeds others (even using herself as an example). Medical experts say that while breastfeeding can help with weight loss in the postpartum period, healthy diet is a deciding factor in maintaining a healthy weight, and formula can be as nutritious as breast milk (just lacks the agents for immunity).
  • Babies Make Everything Better:
    • Brenda finds out she is pregnant in her episode and when she panics it's not the right time, Marc lets her know that their friends Marty and Ruth Ginsberg say "it's never the right time" and later she tells Gloria she has always wanted to be a mom. This is bittersweet, as she does love being a mother and is close to her daughter, she did lose her job.
    • Not for Pamela, who has several babies and is so sheltered that she gets lost at the convention in Houston, and also that these babies keep her in her abusive marriage and have her dealing with all the demands of parenting.
  • The Baby Trap: Inverted. Part of Pamela's abuse from her husband is that she gets pregnant over and over so she'd stay home and be dependent on him.
  • Bad Boss: Phyllis to her household staff and the women in her organization:
    • In "Shirley", to both her black maid and to Alice. When her maid is going through the canned food supplies in the bunker to purge the expired ones, the maid tells Phyllis she believes the stores put those expiration dates to sell more cans. Phyllis tells her that she can keep them then, the implication being that while they are not good enough for the white Schlafly family that they are adequate for her maid and her family. Also she is manipulative of her followers including Alice when the younger woman objects to a Southern leader's open racism (telling Alice to tell her off) while Phyllis uses this as a means to have her cake and eat it - disavow the racism but have the support of white Southern women.
    • In "Jill", Phyllis openly and coldly shuts down Pamela for crying over her abusive marriage and tells her to "control him."
    • In "Reagan" Phyllis, worrying about Anne missing the bus from school in St. Louis has Willie pick her up, dismissing Willie saying that she has to pick up her daughter and also told Pamela to serve her husband, that it will make him nicer.
    • Bella is a more sympathetic take (granted we see in "Reagan" that a whole office of 22 women under her are very loyal to her):
      Jill: Who are these chocolates for?
      Bella: One of my secretaries.
      Jill: Oh, it's her birthday?
      Bella: I threw an ashtray at her.
  • Beauty Inversion: John Slatteryhas been given a prosthetic to make his nose look bumpier like Fred Schafly did in real life and made to look older and less remarkable than his usual Silver Fox looks; Tracey Ullman is made to look frumpier as Betty Friedan while Melanie Lynskey covers up her girlish looks and curvy figure in matronly clothes and aviator glasses to play Rosemary Thompson. And while Jill Ruckelshaus and Phyllis weren't ugly by any means, Elizabeth Banks and Cate Blanchett certainly de-glammed their looks to play them.
    • The end credits of "Reagan" reveal that Brenda Feigen, Shirley Chisholm, and Flo Kennedy looked okay but were nowhere on the level of Ari Graynor, Uzo Aduba, or Niecy Nash.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Alice tries to invoke this, telling the early twenty-something John that her eldest daughter Beth will be 18 in two years and she wants a Schlafly boy as her son-in-law. Given that John is gay (and is more attracted to Alice's older son Tommy who is overseas and met a girl in Hawaii) and Beth clearly has no interest, it doesn't take.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The cool, collected, calm Shirley remembers that when the kids picked on her on the block in Brooklyn where she grew up (either because of racism or another trait), she punched them.
  • Big Damn Reunion: "Houston" where STOP ERA and all the feminist characters (and their daughters) attend the conference in Houston, especially towards the end when the conference sings along to "We Shall Overcome".
  • Big Fancy House: The Schlafly family lives in a large, turn-of-the-century mansion large enough to have offices for both Phyllis and Fred, a large room to hold several people for a luncheon, and a bomb shelter.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rosemary, who appears to be a ditzy housewife with a cutesy voice and very religious but aside from her apathy towards women and queer people fighting for their rights and to be seen as people, she shows to be very uncaring about Pamela's troubles at home and to Alice's moral misgivings about Phyllis. In "Houston" she is not particularly concerned about Alice's feelings regarding not getting credit for talking to Phyllis about "the dangers of the ERA" and is cozied up with the bitchier and racist members of STOP ERA (Mary Frances, for one).
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Pro-ERA feminists, they lost the ERA and Reagan got elected but Gloria says in a speech that there is not turning back for women and their rights. Also the end credits reveal that in 2017, Nevada ratified the ERA with ratification going on well into 2020 (Betty's and Phyllis's home state of Illinois getting ratifying it in 2018 and Virginia in 2020 as the 38th state).
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Phyllis (as played by Cate Blanchett) is a constrained and prim version of this trope and her followers take up the same image as her, playing down their sexuality and appearing prim. In contrast, the women in the Women's Liberation Movement made more room for diversity of fashion and looks, from the conservative and professional Shirley Chisholm, Gloria Steinem's famous casual clothes that showcase her beauty, the Republican Jill as a slightly hipper version of Phyllis and her gang, Betty Friedan's stylish (albeit not as conventionally attractive as Gloria nor Phyllis) look, and Bella Abzug and her hat collection.
  • Book Dumb: Alice, "who isn't a reader" and it's likely due to her learning disability (which would have gone un-diagnosed during her youth), this comes into play when she finds out from a reporter (during an interview where she defends STOP ERA) that the polls said that the ERA is supported by a majority of the American people.
  • Brainy Brunette: Gloria (when her hair gets darker), Flo, Margaret, Shirley, Audrey, Bella, Betty (before her hair gets totally gray), Midge, and Jean. Averted with Alice as she is Book Dumb and her learning disability prevented her from being seen in this trope.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Lottie Beth Hobbs, even by some very conservative standards, where she rants against the National Women's Conference discussing “abortions on demand, lesbianism, and shelters for beaten wives.”
  • Break the Badass: Bella Abzug, who has had a long career of being a radical lawyer and politician, having entering the profession at a time when women weren't encouraged to and opposed the Vietnam War and took Civil Rights cases. In "Bella" she is being confronted with the fact that her fear is holding her back from opening up the convention to speak about lesbian issues and that she isn't so radical (given that feminism has reached the heartland, which Betty tells her isn't a bad thing) and in a conversation with Gloria after making up for a heated argument, she tells her that she once tried to defend a black man named Willie McGee while she was pregnant, in Mississippi where vigilantes were out for her blood and she had to sleep in disguise above a brothel to stay safe, then the stress gave her a miscarriage and she had to leave a month before the final verdict where her client ended up sentenced to execution.
  • Break the Cutie: Pamela, throughout the series she is dealing with emotional abuse and control from her husband Kevin, and nearly breaks down to Alice about why she wanted to road trip with her instead of fly to Houston in episode 8 because he wouldn't have let her go and she always has kids tugging on her and she doesn't have the space to think.
  • Bumbling Dad: Played with. Jill chides William for saying he believed their six-year-old when she said she wasn't sick, he said he took her temperature and managed to dress himself on his own. On the STOP ERA side, women like Pamela have to deal with husbands who want their wives home with the kids and resent taking care of them.
    "Jill, if you want me to be in charge of the kids, you got to let me be in charge."
  • Butch Lesbian: A few appear:
    • Jules, a photographer who soon goes out with Brenda (though with curly '70s Hair and the fashion that goes with it).
    • Margaret "Midge" Constanza, a real life Carter appointee and a gay rights activist.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: In "Bella", Phyllis's daughter Phyllis Jr. and Alice's teenage daughter laments going to one of Phyllis's lectures where she is hawking her new book, saying they thought they were coming in for either The King and I or A Chorus Line.
  • Cassandra Truth: Betty Friedan regarding Phyllis Schlafly and the kind of housewives she is recruiting, given her background in journalism and also that she (unlike the East Coast Gloria and Bella) spent most of her life in Illinois (both her and Phyllis's home state) and is aware of the kind of Christian and White right-wing circles Phyllis runs around in (in Real Life, Betty was rejected from a sorority during college by such peers for being Jewish). She urges the other women in the caucus to take this threat seriously but laments how people are "fawning over Gloria to take me seriously."
    • Played for laughs in the first episode when the caucus is celebrating their formation and when the Democrat Shirley said that Nixon is in favor of the ERA, Jill said "See he isn't all that bad" and the more liberal Gloria said "He is all that bad", this was about a year before Watergate.
  • The Cameo:
  • Career Versus Man: So many.
    • While Fred Schafly gives public support to Phyllis's cause, he openly puts her and her ambitions down, even trying to get her to promise not to campaign again and stay home more. He seethes about being called "Phyllis's Schafly's husband" by the media.
    • Jill Ruckelshaus and her husband William are a lot more progressive and egalitarian than Phyllis and Phil but even they deal with this when Gerald Ford is deciding on his VP pick for the 1976 campaign and William looks like a contender... if only Jill wasn't so involved with the ERA. She backs out, but it's all for naught as the "Reaganites" take over the convention and the anti-abortion Bob Dole is chosen as VP.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Category Traitor: This is how the ERA Now feminists view Phyllis and the other STOP ERA anti-feminists, as traitors against their own gender.
  • Children Raise You: Deconstructed from the perspective of the adult child, Gloria Steinem grew up with a single mother who had mental health issues and often had to take care of her mother most of her childhood. This is part of the reason why Gloria doesn't want to get married and have children.
  • The Chosen One: How Phyllis sees herself, and her mother sees her this way when Fred expresses resentment that he worked 50 years on right-wing causes and Phyllis "was in saddle shoes" when the New Deal came out and her mother said "she was anointed by God".
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The spaces and the clothing colors inhabited and worn by STOP ERA and the feminists (as detailed by Tom and Lorenzo).
    • Cool colors and pastels for STOP ERA.
    • Bright and warm colors for the feminists.
    • In "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc", during the debate, Phyllis wears a red orange knit maxi dress while Brenda wears a coral colored (with blue and red-orange vertical stripes) midi dress while the husbands each wear a navy blue suit with red ties. Both couples are dealing with marital issues but are of different generations.
  • Commitment Issues: Gloria has these, feeling reluctant to get married or settle into a long-term relationship. In Real Life she wouldn't get married until she was 66, saying that she didn't feel like she'd safely feel equal in such a legal arrangement, add to that she practically took care of her mentally ill mother growing up.
  • Composite Character:
    • Phyllis's friend Alice isn't a real person and was created to represent an amalgamation of what your average Joe Republican woman felt at the time.
    • Pamela, to a lesser extent, as a young housewife who hasn't been sure of her choices and is swayed by the older, more dominant, and educated Phyllis.
  • Control Freak: Pamela's abusive husband Kevin, who Alice says sounds "very strict" with his adult wife. It's a early red flag about Pamela's home life. In "Reagan", it turns out that Phyllis has convinced Pamela to serve his every whim and he will be happy.
  • Cool Aunt: Eleanor, in contrast to her sister-in-law Phyllis and brother Fred, she takes care of the Schlafly kids and is very understanding and loving with niece Anne who is frightened of swimming. With her older niece, she is very understanding of Phyllis Jr.'s decision to change her first name to Liza.
  • Cool Old Lady: Quite a few in the series, but with two from "Houston": a NOW volunteer who briefly befriends Alice and commiserate over raising children and being married to their high school sweethearts and recognizes her capabilities and a nun who has studied the Gnostic Gospels and is in favor of women entering the priesthood.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: In "Bella" when discussing the conference in Houston and how it's important to let lesbians in and have their issues talked about, Gloria suggests opening up the conference to everyone even Phyllis's people and says it would be more interesting if there was a mix of different opinions.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Schlafly home's basement bomb shelter, which has several shelves of food, space enough for the nine person household and has gas masks.
  • Cure Your Gays: Phyllis attempts this with John, telling him he can quit being gay like she quit smoking.
  • Dating Catwoman: The progressive liberal feminist Gloria dates Nixon staffer Stanley Pottinger. In Real Life they dated for nine years.
    Pottinger: Not all Nixon appointees are chauvinistic."
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Bella, as in Real Life and in the show. When comments are made about how Gloria's celebrity as a feminist activist is due to her beauty and she asks if she's only just a pretty face to everyone, Bella snarks "No, we need your tits and ass too" and when Gloria notices that an issue of Screw magazine had a centerfold called "Pin the Cock on the Feminist" with a nude woman that looks like Gloria being surrounded by different penises and Gloria laments the long hair and glasses of hers and Bella deadpans, "And my labia."
    • Betty in a flashback displays this trait, where she jokes that she thought there was something wrong with her because she didn't get an orgasm scrubbing the floor.
  • Deep South: The STOP ERA activists: Lottie Beth Hobbs (from Texas), Mary Frances, and Jacquie Davison who embody the negative stereotypes of bigotry, religious zealotry, with Lottie Beth discussing with Phyllis over shooting with rifles about how she wants to see gay people and abortion doctors burned at the stake, the big hair worn by them (even a shocking, curly edifice worn by Jacquie in "Houston"). Averted with a North Carolina woman in "Houston" who is religious but also is a NOW volunteer. Later, at the "Pro Family" Rally by Phyllis and Lottie Beth, there are some attendees holding the Confederate flag.
  • The Ditz: Rosemary acts like this, appearing rather silly and showing Skewed Priorities and acts as comedic relief. She averts this often as she shows herself to be power hungry and almost as relentless as Phyllis, in contrast to the good-natured Alice and the passive Pamela.
  • Domestic Abuse: There are a few cases of this.
    • Fred to Phyllis: the often belittles her intelligence to her face and she has to use manipulation to get what she wants, while the first episode ends with him raping her; she plays it up in public in speeches where she said she has her husband's permission to be there. In Real Life, Phyllis's own daughter, Anne Schafly Cori, objected to the miniseries depiction of her parents, though Phyllis herself issued the following words:
    • Pamela in STOP ERA is seen being forcibly yanked into a pew at a wedding by Alice in "Betty"; later on in "Jill" his abuse of her is so devastating that she's practically crying in Alice's arms. Alice notes that the abuse is also emotional with the way Pamela's husband talks to her and "he has a temper" and in "Shirley" that he sounds "very strict".
    • Lottie Beth Hobbs and Phyllis reveal they look down on shelters for beaten wives, with Phyllis claiming a man is more likely to beat his wife if his tax dollars are going for her "free vacation".
  • Double Standard: All throughout. Jill points out that when she speaks up for women's rights that no matter how calm she is, she will be labeled as "outspoken"; in the same episode Alice, referring to Pamela's controlling and abusive husband, says "he has a bit of a temper."
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Bella's insistence that McGovern is the "electable" choice over Shirley Chisholm in Episode 3 note .
    • In "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc", Brenda ends up debating Phyllis to refute the idea that all feminists are "man-hating lesbians" because she has a handsome husband, Marc. At that exact same time, Brenda realizes she's bisexual - and she and Marc would ultimately divorce, come out as a lesbian, and be in a committed relationship with a woman since 1990.
  • The Dragon: Rosemary, who acts as the biggest Loyalist of Phyllis, never questioning her beliefs or methods, and in one scene is shown to be as apathetic and cruel to Pamela as Phyllis while Alice comforts the younger woman. She soon is head of the Citizen's Review Comittee where the underlings storm the National Women's Conference offices in the southern East Coast and steal documents.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Eleanor, as she is a single woman over 40 who has been a Parental Substitute to her nieces and nephews since their births, deals with Phyllis putting down feminists as "old maids" (after she confided to Phyllis her insecurity about being unmarried) and in "Reagan" sees that Phyllis loves to make fun of feminists for not being mothers and gives no credit to her sister-in-law for taking care of them.
  • Dumb Blonde: From both sides.
    • Phil Crane, despite being friendly with golden blonde Phyllis, treats her as this when she appears on his show The Conservative Viewpoint to talk about military policy and despite her expertise he gives her a comment that states she may be intellectually overwhelmed by his questions. In the end she pretty much leaves him breathless with her knowledge.
    • The honey-haired Gloria Steinem gets frustrated over how the media treats her as a spokeswoman for the movement due to her looks and less on her knowledge (she's worked as a journalist). Averted hard with Liza and Jill.
  • Easy Evangelism: Defied, while Alice becomes more sympathetic to the feminists she meets at Houston, she still works with STOP ERA but by the beginning of "Reagan", she hasn't been at work with them for about a year ("grandma duties") and Phyllis and Rosemary are less convinced of her commitment to their cause. At the end, she clearly is displeased by Phyllis's morals, her and Rosemary making fun of Gloria and Bella, and by Phyllis's callousness to Pamela's situation, and stops working for them and got a job as a 411 operator and finds she likes earning her own money.
  • End of an Era: The show chronicles the Republican Party’s decade-long transition during the ‘70s from the socially moderate mid-century party (both Nixon and Ford supported the ERA and were pro-choice) to the “moral majority” party of Reagan onwards. This is highlighted in "Jill" when her husband Bill gets passed over for the VP spot by Ford because he’s too moderate. Ford had to pick the more conservative Bob Dole as a compromise to keep Reagan from beating him for the nomination. In real life, the two of them have grown disillusioned with the party and don’t consider themselves Republicans anymore because of the way the party has changed.
  • Enemy Mine: The traditionalist Catholic Phyllis joins forces with the evangelical Lottie Beth Hobbs, telling her that "we serve the same Lord" in supporting Reagan and fighting the ERA.
  • Etiquette Nazi: Alice comes off as this in "Houston" when she and Pamela enter the women's restroom of a already crowded (and overworked) hotel full of convention delegates who haven't gotten their own rooms to freshen up in; thus to their surprise they walk into a restroom full of young feminists changing clothes and preparing their hair outside of the (already limited) stalls and Alice scolds Pamela for attempting the same.
    We have decorum!
  • Everybody Smokes: A lot of the adults smoke in this series, given that the dangers of smoking had just came out and the dangers of second-hand smoke weren't known in The '70s, there are adults trying to quit like Phyllis did.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Alice is horrified to find out that the southern chapters of STOP ERA have explicitly racist language in their charters, in "Jill" she is stunned at the cold attitude Phyllis shows to a hormonal and abused young Pamela where she pretty much blames the woman for her husband's attitude, and in "Bella" she is horrified at the implication that Lottie Beth Hobbs actively recruited Klansmen to guard and bus and at Phyllis being willing to fabricate real-life speeches from famous feminists to make them sound bad. Is apologetic to lesbian feminists in "Houston" for the anti-lesbian Pro-Family Rally signs she helped put up and is disgusted with Phyllis's callous attitude towards the abuse that Pamela gets at home with her husband and with Rosemary making fun of Gloria in "Reagan". Alice eventually quits STOP ERA and gets a job.
    • Played with regarding Phyllis, who expresses this in "Bella" when she learns that the guardsmen and drivers the STOP ERA campaign has hired were Klansmen and confronts Lottie Beth Hobbs (who helped organize) that it won't do and finds out that Lottie believes that hatred is important to love properly and implies that she wouldn't be reluctant to enlist Klan support. Phyllis is willing to paper over any Klan support in order to launch a "pro-family" rally outside of the Houston convention.
  • Family Versus Career:
    • Phyllis is often pulled between the demands of her husband to stay home and her work, yet she preaches the importance of being a homemaker and mother as being the chief roles for women.
    • The Ms. offices have daycare facilities where children play while their mothers work, rectifying somewhat the conflicts brought by this trope and sometimes during meetings, mothers would hold their babies in their arms and co-workers are often involved in childcare (to free the mom's time).
    • Part of the reason why Gloria doesn't want to marry or have children, as it was then, it'd be likely she'd sacrifice her sense of self and career which was enforced by growing up with a mother with mental health issues who had to leave a reporter job after she got pregnant with Gloria's older sister Sue.
    • A STOP ERA demonstration features baby carriages with signs saying "I Don't Want Mommy to Work".
    • Plenty of the feminists who are married and had kids have their difficulties with this trope, like Betty wanting to be in a relationship but enjoying her freedom as a single woman, while Margaret Sloan gamely embraces her motherhood and career and queerness, Jill Ruckelshaus is married with three children, Brenda and Marc have a child after the debate with Phyllis and Fred and Marc even mentioned how their successful friends Marty and Ruth (Bader Ginsberg) have said there is never a right time to have children but things turn out fine.
    • In "Jill" Phyllis chides Jill for going to work and having drinks while she has five children at home, but Phyllis the hypocrite is shown to be cold with her children, including John and her daughters, and takes several housewives away from their families to campaign against the ERA and Jill is shown to be very involved and caring toward her kids and stepchildren.
    • Both Betty Friedan and Brenda Feigen-Fasteau said that they were fired from their jobs when they got pregnant.
  • Fashion Hurts: Or makes you sweat, in "Bella", Phyllis deals with hot flashes and wears a wool Christmas sweater over a long-sleeved satin blouse with a high neckline indoors during the summer.
  • Fashions Never Change: Phyllis and most of the STOP ERA housewives, who dress and wear their hair as it's 1959 or even 1966, in contrast to the hipper, more casual or professional, and hair moving feminists (Shirley and Jill are somewhat in between). This sticks out with young Pamela, who dresses like a secretary at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
  • Favors for the Sexy: Deconstructed with Gloria, Jill, and even Phyllis who all had to deal with men sexually harassing them or underestimating their intelligence due to their physical beauty in order to get what they wanted or further their causes; Bella urges Gloria to capitalize on it saying "I wish I had a pretty face so I wouldn't be yelling to get men to listen to me" given that pictures of her in her youth have shown she personally knew the power of being beautiful.
  • Faux Horrific: In a law school class room Phyllis pushes down a tag from a girl's dress ahead of her, the girl turns and lifts an arm (revealing armpit hair) and mouths a genuine "thank you" but Phyllis is horrified by the girl's arm pit hair.
  • Female Misogynist: Phyllis and the other STOP ERA activists are accused of being this as they are actively campaigning against women being given equal rights to men, despite being women themselves. They preach that it is a woman's duty to stay at home and be the primary care giver because God created them to bear the children.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: One of the tactics the STOP ERA team does is bake breads and cakes and make jams to bring to the male politicians to sway them in their favor in support of "traditional homemakers."
  • Fiery Redhead: Averted with Brenda Feigen and Pamela:
    • Brenda is outspoken and serious, but even when she is shocked that Phyllis would lie about a case on television, she keeps her cool.
    • Pamela is more submissive than the trope, to her detriment, but is very emotional due to her trauma.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • A quick history search can tell you that while Phyllis will ultimately be successful in stopping the ERA, many other issues she is against like abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights and civil rights will ultimately win out against her, in addition to feminism taking off to being much stronger and accomplish much more.
    • No matter how hard some prominent Republicans like Jill and her husband Bill fight to keep the party in its post-World War II moderate form (as seen in the presidencies of Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford), the GOP is still going to change into what it is today with the the Reagan Revolution.
  • Fox News Liberal:
    • Jill Ruckelshaus is a real person and in the show, as in real life, she was the Republican face of the ERA. She worked in both the Nixon and Ford administrations as a women's rights adviser. She's since fallen out with the GOP and has admitted to voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
    • Her husband Bill as well, as her affiliation with the ERA has threatened him with the Reaganites, and in Real Life, just like his wife, he beaome disillusioned with the GOP and voted for Clinton in 2016.
    • Jill introduces Black Republican Audrey Rowe Colom to the Caucs in "Betty."
    • Gloria's second partner, Stanley Pottinger, who is openly cheering on Brenda naming all of Phyllis's falsehoods on TV and is a Nixon appointee who is a colleague of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Brenda.
    • First Lady Betty Ford (like in Real Life along with Ladybird Johnson and Rosalyn Carter) who urges Jill to use her talents for the ERA and has endorsed it herself.
    • Phyllis teases her daughter Liza as this (for not desiring to be at Phyllis's book signing), after spending time at Princeton. In real life she is almost as conservative as her siblings but not as outspoken as she works in estate law just like her dad.
  • Flyover Country: STOP ERA is based in Illinois at first and most of the ERA feminists were from the Midwest themselves (Gloria from Ohio, Jill from Indiana, Betty from Illinois). Phyllis and Betty meet for a debate in Bloomington, Illinois.
    Betty: Bloomington is a shithole, I can say that coming from Peoria.

  • The Generation Gap: Very obvious, most of the feminists are young college women and women in their thirties (with some token middle aged women like Betty, Bella, and Shirley) who have roots in the anti-war and civil rights movements while the STOP ERA housewives are women who are 30 at the least (Pamela being a token young housewife) and are right-wing and have conservative, religious views on gender roles and even race relations. This is emphasized more in "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" where the older Fred and Phyllis (right-wing where they project traditional gender roles despite Phyllis being a lobbyist professionally) debate the younger Brenda and Marc (both lawyers who are then currently childless and progressive).
  • God Before Dogma: Downplayed with Alice who grows concerned over the dishonesty, racism, hatred, manipulation, and cruelty with Phyllis and her followers even urging her peers that it's not Christian to not try to reach a consensus with the feminists at the conference and to look at the positions they agree with. She and Pamela are the only ones in their group to stand up in favor of the Minority Women resolution (and is apologetic about about the homophobic signs she put up when seeing how hurt the lesbians attending are).
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted, as in real life, Gloria Steinem had a safe but illegal abortion in the past and she encourages women in her magazine to speak out about their experiences. In "Gloria" she even speaks to a woman who had an abortion in the past because she and her husband were living in a hotel room with their three children and how it was a hard time for her. Stop ERA activists, though, are firmly against abortion.
  • Good Parents: Several examples.
    • Margaret Sloan is a devoted mother to her daughter, bringing her to work and even encouraging her to stand up for herself when kids on the playgrounds tease her about having a lesbian mother.
    • Jill Ruckelshaus is an affectionate mother who talks openly with her children and makes time for them.
    • Betty Friedan, for all her difficult traits, is very devoted and close to her teenage daughter, even tearfully parting from her before dropping her off for a weekend with her father and step-mother.
    • Alice is a Nice Girl who (in contrast to Phyllis) is very loving with her children and is just concerned for their future. She even carries this nature to her friendship with the younger and less secure wife and mom Pamela.
  • Good Stepmother: Jill, as in Real Life when she married William he was a widowed father of three kids, and then they had two kids together and she raised all five of them together and is shown to be a caring mother, and as Betty Ford told her, "apple pie" enough to gain support for the ERA.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Used a few times:
    • Phyllis makes her speech in the luncheon in episode one in a orchid purple dress where she launches into an attack on the Women's Liberation Movement.
    • Gloria wears a psychedelic purple minidress in episode two for the launch of Ms. magazine.
    • Betty wears a old cocktail dress with blue and purple flowers for a blind date.
    • Alice wears a orchid colored shirtdress in "Houston" as a delegate and when meeting Gloria Steinem, Gloria comments that it's a pretty color on her.
  • Hair Flip: Gloria, having very long and shiny locks she is famous for and being the feminist most known for her beauty and femininity (in contrast to older women like Phyllis, Betty, Shirley, and Bella or more conservative women like Jill), does this when she walks and it also is the first time that Alice and Pamela will see her at the National Women's Conference in Houston.
  • Happily Married: There are examples of these kind of couples on both sides of the aisle:
    • For the liberal couples: Shirley Chisholm and her husband Arthur, who had served as her bodyguard before the Secret Service and is shown to be supportive of her when she loses, all in contrast to Phyllis's marriage.
    • "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" show a messier example with Marc and Brenda; they are very mutually supportive, share a similar sense of humor, have mutual affection and respect for each other, get along, and work towards a common goal, but Brenda is struggling with her bisexuality and even sees another woman.
    • Bella and her husband are shown to be very close and affectionate, even planning a trip to Southern Italy, after 25 years. They are seen caressing in "Reagan" and in Real Life she was devastated by his death in The '80s.
    • For the more centrist couples: William and Jill Ruckelshaus are shown to have a close, loving, and egalitarian marriage where there seems to be plenty of sexual desire.
    • From what has been spoken and seen, Alice's marriage to her husband Buck is loving and amiable and they were High-School Sweethearts, of course there is that fear of him leaving her for another woman and she not getting alimony.
  • Hated Hometown: Peoria to Betty, due to how she was a minority there due to being Jewish (given that Betty would have spent most of her childhood and teen years in the 1930s and 1940s, it'd be no surprise if Betty dealt with antisemitism).
  • Heel Realization: Alice's journey in the series takes her from being one of Phyllis's biggest supporters and closest friends to slowly realizing that the woman she is following is willing to ally with racists and take actual quotes out of context and that she's cruel and cares more about her own ambition than the housewives she's supposedly helping.
    • In "Houston" Betty Friedan, who was noted for regressive attitudes towards the gay and lesbian community, says that lesbians should have their civil rights be protected.
    • In "Houston" Alice gets to hang out with feminists at the convention and has a good time, even having a nice encounter with Gloria and she points out to the members of STOP ERA that they shouldn't be fighting the "Libbers" for everything as they are not anti-employment, minority, or education and can find a consensus with them on those issues.
      Alice: I came here to defend myself, but I have to ask: who is attacking us?
  • Hero of Another Story:
  • Heteronormative Crusader: STOP ERA, full stop, with even the more reasonable Alice not objecting to the homophobic language of the racist Southern members. Phyllis has a gay son and seems displeased when she figures it out. Within the feminist movement, the subject is less "ban the gays" and more "don't want them involved" with some black feminists and Betty Friedan — most other feminists in the show object to this bigotry (Flo Kennedy especially when she brings Margaret Sloan into a meeting).
  • Hidden Depths: Throughout the show.
    • Rosemary reveals a rather ruthless and ambitious streak that increases over the running time of the show and she shows more interest in positions of power. In Real Life, she ends up working for the Reagan Administration and became an Iowan assemblywoman.
    • Pamela shows a inclination toward being an artist, from her coordinated patriotic themed sign for the Pro-Family Rally, and in the beginning Phyllis expresses amazement at Pamela's artistic skills where she sketched out an eagle carrying a STOP sign.
  • High-School Sweethearts: A few examples:
    • Alice and her husband Buck, whom she has dated since she was 16 and married when she was 19.
    • A less happier trope is the marriage of Pamela and her husband Kevin.
  • Historical Domain Character: Every major character besides Alice is a real person. Even some of the minor characters are real people, like Senators Barry Goldwater and George McGovern, who both unsuccessfully ran for president in 1964 and 1972 respectively.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The creative team on the show made a deliberate decision to not highlight Phyllis's anti-civil rights past and her opposition to racial integration to make her more sympathetic.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: For all her success and manipulations, Phyllis ends up experiencing this. She helps ensure the ERA doesn't pass, but the backlash from women that the Republican Party experiences after allying with her position makes her too politically toxic for a position in Reagan's cabinet, the increased acceptance of sexism, misogyny and male supremacism within the Republican Party she helps ensure makes it easy for the men she once counted as allies to dismiss and ignore her and any contributions she might try to make, and she's utterly despised by the feminist movement so has no hope of any support there. Her last scene ends with her symbolically trapped in the same position she helped enforce for so many other women — an ignored and frustrated housewife with few opportunities to have the better life she wants for herself.
  • Hollywood Nuns: One appears at the convention in "Houston" and she appears to have the stereotypical garb but this nun is a progressive feminist who has consecrated the Body and Blood of Christ (a no no in mainstream and traditional Catholic churches) and teaches about the Gnostic Gospels and how up to the 2nd Century, women were included in the rituals like priests and the Holy Spirit was considered feminine and argues that reclaiming the Virgin Mary as a early leader in Christianity would be progress for women.
  • Hot-Blooded: Betty Friedan, especially in contrast to the STOP ERA women and feminists like Gloria, Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Jill.
  • Housewife: What most of the STOP ERA women are and what Phyllis pretends to be, while working as a political lobbyist, activist and writer and delegating childcare to her sister-in-law and housework to her staff.
  • Hypocrite: The show portrays Phyllis as such. She's a very intelligent, educated woman who works outside the home despite the fact that she preaches that women shouldn't do so. She also says that a woman’s first priority is to care for her home and children but she has household help and relies on her sister-in-law as a proto-nanny to raise her kids. In contrast, Jill (who's also a Republican) is open about the fact that she works outside the home and is a more physically and emotionally present mother. Jill more or less calls her out about this to her face in her eponymous episode when Phyllis asks her what she's doing out on a Saturday afternoon having drinks with her friends when she's got five kids at home. In "Bella" and "Houston", Bella Abzug and some NOW posters point out that Phyllis is ironically behaving as a feminist: in charge of her decisions and her own life.
    • Pamela is a sympathetic version, she works for a sexist and regressive movement that promotes traditional roles for women and of families but she clearly is chafing in an abusive marriage and in "Houston" she sneaks out behind her husband's back to attend the rallies, one of which promotes the nuclear family complete with submissive wives.
    • In "Houston" Brenda tells a group that she was fired from the ACLU when she got pregnant, which she still finds incredulous.
      I was illegally terminated from my job when I was five months pregnant, and I was working for the ACLU—the ACLU, whose stated purpose is to defend and preserve rights and privileges.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Eleanor, after a botched gala in "Reagan" catches the eye of a Silver Fox despite dismissing herself as a "nobody" and is implied to have gone out with him.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Fred and Phyllis.
    • Phyllis ran for Congress a few times in The '60s only to lose them all.
    • Fred worked under Joseph McCarthy in Real Life and currently practices estate law. During an argument, Phyllis pokes at this and says he couldn't use his law degree "to save our country" which makes him leave their hotel room in a huff.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Bella, in her confrontation with Rosemary, Alice, and Pamela, tells them that Phyllis is a "liar, a con artist" and ironically a feminist as she is "the most liberated woman in America." The group take offense to that last one.
  • I Want Grandkids: Bella jokes that it's time for her and Martin's daughters Liz and Egee to give them grandchildren.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: Jill jokes about this with William, about he dresses much better than when they first met and he was wearing tweed suits that mark him as a "square."
  • I Was Never Here: In "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc", Brenda and Margaret run into each other where Margaret sees her dancing and making out with Jules, another acquaintance and colleague (despite being married to a man), and Brenda discovers Margaret is moving to Oakland. Aside from Margaret quickly telling Brenda that Gloria doesn't know yet, no one is panicking or trying to cover their ass.
  • I Was Only Pretending To Like You: Implied by the conversation Ronald Reagan has with Phyllis in the finale where he thanks her for lending her mailing list and her support, but because of her controversial position and how despite his win, he showed unpopularity with a large amount of women voters, he can't appoint her to a position in his administration and then hangs up on her without waiting for her reply.
  • Ignore the Disability: Alice has dyslexia that may have gone undiagnosed (justified given her age and the era she grew up in) and may have contributed to her fears of having to work, she waves it off to Pamela as "not being much of a reader".
  • Implausible Deniability: A practice utilized by Phyllis, Lottie Beth, and Rosemary who strongly back up their lies with conviction, this being undermined in "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" during the debate with the Feigen-Fasteaus when Brenda calls out Phyllis for making up a court case. Brought up in "Houston" when Rosemary scolds Alice nor not countering that the polls concluding a broad national favor for the ERA were false (which Phyllis later does) and in the press releases for the "Death of the ERA Gala" where Alice finds they have exagerrated the size of the "Pro-Family" Rally (which, while had a lot of people, wasn't as much as the National Women's Conference going on at the same time) and Lottie Beth says with a straight face that "Satan's forces are well-financed" and that it'd be easy to get confused to Alice's face when she points out the truth.
  • In Vino Veritas: Alice gets this despite not being drunk in "Reagan" after sullenly sipping a few drinks during the gala and before she launches into giving Phyllis a public "The Reason You Suck" Speech after Phyllis organized a song and dance where Rosemary and another peer make fun of Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug and after Phyllis advised Pamela to obey her husband and make him feel like the king of his castle, which led to her not being able to attend.
  • Incompatible Orientation: John Schlafly was Childhood Friends with Alice's son Tommy since they were in elementary school and in "Betty" we and Phyllis see John give Tommy a longing look on his wedding day.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Gloria Steinem, to this day, is a beautiful woman and is noted so in Real Life but in the series where she is portrayed by Rose Byrne and many of the other women are portrayed by equally attractive actresses, it falls to this trope especially when it comes to being a spokeswoman for the movement.
  • Insistent Terminology: Phyllis doesn't take kindly to being called "Ms.", insisting that she's married and therefore should be called "Mrs."
  • Irony:
    • In a talk with Jill about the sexual harassment facing the women on the Hill, Phyllis asserted that "virtuous women are seldom accosted" and they were asking for it. Later when Phyllis is meeting with Ronald Reagan's campaign team she forces smiles through dirty jokes and gets a man's hand on her knee.
    • With STOP ERA, consisting of conservative housewives who don't want to go to work and stay "proud homemakers" and "want to be women" where all the women gain office skills and basically report to Phyllis's offices like it was a 9 to 5 job, with Bella Abzug calling Pamela, Alice, and Rosemary out on it and in "Reagan" Phyllis calls one of the housewives her secretary.
    • As noted by Bella Abzug, the "proud homemakers" of the STOP ERA movement who urge for the nations to Stay in the Kitchen and ask politicians to keep women there, end up becoming "working girls". In Real Life, Arlene Crane becomes a Private Investigator and Rosemary Thomson works in several Republican administrations especially in the War Against Drugs with William Bennett while the fictional Alice ends up taking a job as a 411 operator.
    • Phyllis's strenuous efforts to destroy the chances of the ERA getting passed end up serving to strangle any hopes she might have had of future career advancement in the administration of Ronald Reagan. Which works on several levels; she views getting the ERA binned as a stepping stone to future political power, but her efforts to do so completely alienate the women the Republican Party depends on for electoral success, meaning the party has to cut her loose; her determination to smother an amendment to ensure equal working rights legitimises the sexism which the men she's competing with use to ignore and dismiss her; the increasingly liberal, moderate and open Republican Party she hates and works so hard to undermine and replace would have allowed her greater opportunity for the career advancement she craves; and her own actions mean she's completely loathed by the feminist movement which she could have turned to as an ally against such arguably unjust treatment. Furthermore, the ERA was never really her priority or main interest to begin with; her area of expertise was foreign relations, and she somewhat cynically intended to use the anti-ERA campaign as a stepping-stone to higher political and governmental office. However, thanks to all the above, it became the main if not only thing she was ever known for.
  • Ivy League for Everyone:
    • In "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc", before their debate, it turns out that Fred went to college with Paul Freund, who Marc and Brenda had as a professor. All Phyllis (who is educated with a Master's degree) can do is smile and offer a few comments as she is out of her depth. Later because of this and that Brenda pointed out that Phyllis fabricated a court case on live TV is what spurs Phyllis to decide on attending law school at Washington University in St. Louis.
    • Flo Kennedy, Bella, and Shirley all went to Columbia University and Jill went to Indiana University and Harvard for her Master's in Literature.
    • In real life most of the feminist leaders and Phyllis went to Seven Sisters colleges. Gloria and Betty graduated from Smith College, while Phyllis from Radcliffe College (now absorbed into Harvard).
    • In "Bella", we learn that Phyllis Jr. (now Liza) is attending Princeton.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Within the feminist movement, the Jewish members are Betty Friedan, Brenda Feigen, and Bella Abzug. While Gloria Steinem is not Jewish (her mother was gentile, her father died young, and she was not raised in any particular religion), she did have some Jewish heritage on her father’s side, and her tendency to argue is implied to be a result thereof. These Jewish and semi-Jewish activists often engage in conflicting discussions, light-hearted or heated. In "Bella" Gloria and Bella have a loud discussion at Ms. and when Gloria's money guy asks them to stop arguing, Gloria tells him that it's a New York thing, to which the Italian American Midge snarks in response, "the West Side of New York City."
  • Jewish Mother: Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug were both Jewish in real life, and mothers. The episode "Betty" features Betty as a woman who is both progressive and had internalized the sexist attitudes that STOP ERA holds so dear, scolding her teenage daughter for wearing an outfit that is deemed too revealing and feeling insecure about her looks in comparison to younger and prettier women like Gloria Steinem and her ex-husband's new and young wife. Bella jokes about how it's time for her and Martin's daughters to "give us grandkids".
  • Knight Templar Parent: Phyllis, who takes her son's law exam for him. STOP ERA can count as a whole as they see the breaking down of gender roles and the openness to queer people (or people of color, if you count the racist members) as a threat to their children (even dreading women being drafted).
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Shirley, when it comes to running for President again in the future or holding out for a VP slot with McGovern and after finding out that Bella and Gloria met with his campaign.
    Shirley: I'm not interested in another run that's viewed as symbolic. McGovern will choose Thomas Eagleton, as he always wanted to do all along and he won't mention abortion on the campaign trail, or gay rights, or the Equal Rights Amendment, or anything that matters to us. You put on a good show, but don't mistake that for real political power. Power concedes nothing. If we don't demand true equality, we are always going to be begging men for a few crumbs from the pie, trading women for an empty promise.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Alice, when Pamela asks her why she can't just read a speech rather than read it aloud, Alice tells her that when she reads it the words dance around, then dismisses it by saying she isn't "a reader". Which can point to an un-diagnosed disability and justified for people of her generation (given that Alice grew up during a time when there wasn't much acceptance nor resources for people with disabilities). "Houston" shows Alice use mneumonics to remember a recipe for stuffing that her late grandmother made.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: Invoked when Alice says "we want roses (prosperity) not rights (liberty)", capturing how the STOP ERA women, threatened by their pedestals of proud homemakers being shattered by the upward mobility of working women or women choosing to live single or divorce from unsatisfactory marriages. Gloria Stienem notes irritation as she speaks of these mostly privileged housewives failing to understand the importance other women not of their class need to be paid equally, enter education and jobs on equal footing with men, or have control over their reproductive rights.
    Gloria: These housewives are the last gasp of the patriarchy, brainwhashed to believe that if they don't play the game, they will lose the love and protection of men...How long are we supposed to wait? How many more women are going to die from botched abortions while we wait for men to feel comfortable with us having control over our own bodies? How many women are gonna be forced to give birth to babies they can't afford to feed while we wait for housewives, who have no idea what it's like to have to work to survive, to feel comfortable with women having power? How long do we give people to adapt to change? Am I the only one who's so fucking tired of waiting?

  • Massive Numbered Siblings: The Schlaflys, being traditional Catholics, have six children. The Ruckelshauses have five, but theirs is a blended family as Bill was a widower with three kids when they met.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The plot is introduced when Phyllis and Alice, at the beauty salon, discuss Alice feeling threatened by the ERA potentionally ending alimony in the case of divorce and by the professional, educated women she encountered at her husband's boss's dinner (said women being her husband's colleagues' wives) and being ignored in introductions by said boss. Rather than blame the boss for disrespecting her or her husband and other attendees for not standing up for her, Alice points the blame elsewhere: "Thank you Gloria Steinem". Gloria herself figures out where STOP ERA is coming from that sense of helplessness of being looked over by the men in their lives in favor of women who don't fit the traditional mold and how they blame those other women for being overlooked:
    Gloria: These housewives are the last gasp of the patriarchy, brainwashed to believe that if they don't play the game, they will lose the love and protection of men.
  • The Missus and the Ex: An awkward scene from the point of view of the ex. Betty Friedan meets the first of many new wives her ex-husband has, who is a Trophy Wife who lends her low-cut blouses to Betty's teenage daughter, and tries to make things more comfortable by speaking well of how Betty raised the kids, but Betty is too threatened by her (who like Gloria, is a pretty face who gets more attention and is noted to be sweeter tempered).
  • Moral Guardians: Most of STOP ERA (anti-abortion, not gay friendly, Stay in the Kitchen attitudes) but especially Eleanor Schlafly who wrings her hands over prison abolition, Shirley Chisholm, Flo Kennedy, and once did a campaign against the musical Hair where the methods have come in handy.
  • Mrs Degree: Most of the characters (Phyllis, Rosemary, Lottie Beth, and all the main feminist characters) are college educated but they also deal with Stay in the Kitchen attitudes from people and in the workplace. Betty alludes to interviewing her college peers to see how they acclimated to being housewives (not well) and former stay-at-home mom Jill throws a lampshade on this trope.
    Jill: Billy likes to say that we educate men and women through college to be precisely equal, but then the men go off to do interesting things.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • In-Universe, this is (perhaps surprisingly) how we first meet Phyllis of all people. She is kitted out in nothing but a stars and stripes two-piece swimsuit and a mega-watt smile while being paraded around in front a bunch of overwhelmingly male Republican party members at a fundraiser for Congressman Phil Crane. Crane himself does nothing to hide the fact that he enjoys the view, sleazily telling Phyllis to "please wear that" when they arrange to meet again, in front of his own wife no less.
    • Gloria Steinem is openly referred to by the press not only for her feminist beliefs but especially for her beauty and her long legs in miniskirts, to her chagrin, as this often made her feel that she is reduced to this trope because of her looks. Even her accountant describes her as just "someone with great legs" in front of her peers and employees and co-workers at Ms. magazine.
  • Mushroom Samba: Alice gets very drunk and possibly high due to a pot brownie, wandering around the women's conference half-aware in a hallucinatory daze visiting the many different places set up there (a self-defense class, a liberal Catholic service, musical session etc.).
  • Mutual Envy: Betty wants to be as respected and adored as Gloria is, and (in a less charitable light) to remain a leader. Gloria is envious that Betty wrote such an influential book and triggered a lot of the feminism movement in the US, while Gloria feels that she's often a figurehead who isn't respected for her actual writing.
  • My Beloved Smother: Alice's mother Marion in "Houston" who is nice and loving, but she tends to remind Alice what to pack and shelters her like she's still a young woman despite Alice being a mother of three and a grandmother. It's implied that she had sheltered Alice for a long time and it has contributed to Alice being not confident, her shyness, and her lack of real world experience.
  • My Greatest Failure: Bella tells Gloria in "Bella" that she remembered defending Willie McGee when she was out of law school and pregnant and because of the activity and threats from Klansmen to her own life even, she had to sleep on bus stops and hide in brothels disguised and eventually had a miscarriage from all the stress and left Mississippi before the case was over and he ended up executed. She still regrets it and it has contributed to her relentless energy.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Alice, who has only talked to a few men in her life (the priest and family) and doesn't have much awareness of the details of politics or independence. Phyllis exploits her and other women who fit this trope for her cause.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Lottie Beth, who once told Phyllis that "in order to properly love" one must hate and savagely rips out petals from roses to make a point about abortion, is fascinated by the bomb threat in "Reagan" asking Phyllis excitedly (like she was indulging in some juicy gossip rather than being evacuated for safety) if a bomb was found.
  • No Party Given: Averted. Phyllis and her followers are explicitly Republicans while most of the ERA Now ladies are explicitly Democrats. Jill is the Republican among the latter group, as it’s bipartisan on paper.
  • Not Wanting Kids Is Weird: Phyllis and her peers hold this view, even making fun of some feminists for not having kids (despite many feminists, even ones she has had encounters with or wanted to debate, being mothers).
  • Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: The STOP ERA housewives, especially Phyllis, come off as this to the feminist movement leaders and followers due to their Moral Guardian motivations, their small-mindededness, some suffer from Unfulilled Purpose Misery, were involved in organizations like Daughters of the American Revolution, some of them are racist and/or homophobic, and how they weaponize femininity and patriotism to stall the progress of women in society. It even shows up in their name: STOP stands for "Stop Taking Our Privileges". Rosemary reveals her true colors as this more and more.
  • Old Maid: Phyllis dismisses most of the feminists as frustrated women who can't get a husband (never mind that Betty, Shirley, Jill, and Bella were all married at the time) or enjoy domesticity; her sister-in-law despairs over being one, and while Phyllis comforts her, she uses her story as a boogeyman story in her newsletter as a harbinger of what the ERA will bring.
  • Only Sane Man: Kind, thoughtful Alice in STOP ERA, surrounded by the hypocritical and often cruel Phyllis and the power-hungry Rosemary Thompson and their Alpha Bitch behaviors, racist members, unimaginative allies (the "Women Who Want to Be Women" group from Texas), and the impressionable and abused Pamela for whom she acts as an ally.
  • Parenting the Husband: Lampshaded in "Gloria" where Phyllis, Rosemary, Alice, and Pamela are recruiting their fellow housewives in their letter campaign to get Phyllis on a talk show to speak against the ERA. Rosemary is seen talking to a few housewives who are wondering about how they will get to do anything given their domestic duties and children. Rosemary answers "Can you put the children to bed an hour early?" and cuts to Alice at the beauty salon jokingly telling a housewife: "Or, put your husband to bed an hour early".
    • This is deconstructed when Pamela is chided by Phyllis to be both a submissive wife to her abusive husband Kevin but also control "the King of the Castle".
  • Parents as People: Both sides. Phyllis, Alice, Pamela, Rosemary, Bella, Jill, Brenda (eventually), and Betty are all mothers or noted to be mothers (even a few grandmothers) but the series spends more time outside of their maternal roles or even their relationships to explore their own arcs outside of their families.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Phyllis and the "peppery" Arlene Crane in the first episode where Phyllis blames her election loss on the Democrats rigging the system, to which Arlene politely but pointedly answers that her husband Phil did very fine, to jab at Phyllis. Then later Phyllis smiles broadly when Phil Crane (in front of Arlene and the other ladies) ogles at Phyllis in her swimsuit.
  • Pink Is Feminine:
    • Phyllis at one point leads a discussion on the political implications of pink versus "dusty rose." She does wear a lot of red, pinks, and salmon for her campaign (which was even noted in Doonesbury) and the scene where she decides to talk against the ERA to get the attention of her male colleagues has her in a pastel pink suit.
    • Alice wears pink on her son's wedding day talking about how she as the mother of the groom should "shut up and wear beige" but her consultation says she's a winter, and also when she looks with a motherly concern on Pamela and her husband.
  • Phrase Catcher: Everyone, even Republican Jill, calls Phyllis “that right wing nut.”
  • Politically Incorrect Hero:
    • Alice (who is a Composite Character created for the audience to relate to), she's very much into Stay in the Kitchen attitudes and is even homophobic, but is disgusted at the Southern racism she observes in "Shirley."
    • Oddly the more progressive Betty Friedan, as noted in real life, when she is reluctant to give high priority to lesbian issues.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Lottie Beth Hobbs, the leader of the Texan organization Women Who Want to be Women, is not only a holder of Female Misogynist views and while she is as conservative and homophobic as the other STOP ERA women, she is a deliberately hateful woman (and proud of it) and tells Phyllis she wants to see "abortionists and perverts" burned at the stake.
  • Polyamory: Shockingly with the "family values" politician Phil Crane and his wife Arlene. He has always flirted with Phyllis, even asking her to wear her two piece swimsuit to a TV interview with him in front of her, but "Reagan" implies that Arlene is not only aware of his dalliances but she also takes an active role in vetting out his conquests before they can enter their house.
  • Power Hair: Phyllis and her followers have elaborately styled bouffants and updos that mimic this style; Shirley Chisholm does keep her hair in such a manner while Jill has a more relaxed but poofier version.
  • Precision F-Strike: Pamela (dealing with hormones and an abusive husband) has this in "Jill" when she (and Alice) see that Phyllis is more concerned with gaining power than with their cause and Phyllis will be meeting with Reagan's people. All the older women are shocked but only Alice doesn't censure her.
    Pamela: We don't give a shit about Kissinger!
  • Pretty in Mink: Gloria wears some furs at a launch party for Ms. with a psychedelic mini-dress.
  • Properly Paranoid: Shirley Chisholm, somewhat jokingly, tells Flo Kennedy she sometimes wonders if the Secret Service detail assigned to her are really keeping an eye on her. Given the events of Watergate and J. Edgar Hoover using manipulative tactics to smear or induce suicidal ideation in Civil Rights leaders, she has every right to be paranoid.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: At the end eventually the ERA failed to get ratified and Ronald Reagan got elected but Phyllis doesn't get a position in his administration because she was so controversial and the end credits note that he named the Pro-ERA Jeane Kirkpatrick as U.S. Ambassador who had the same depth of knowledge about communism as Phyllis.
  • Quote Mine: Phyllis takes segments from feminist leaders' recorded speeches out of context, then puts them into a tape circulated to make them all look bad.

  • Rags to Riches:
    • Phyllis, who grew up in a family where her father was a breadwinner and controlled the budget but her mother worked so her children could get a Catholic education and Phyllis worked a factory job during World War II, now as a middle-aged adult she works as a lobbyist for "pin money" and is married to a wealthy lawyer in a large suburban mansion while being a figure of influence in the Right Wing.
    • Gloria, as in Real Life she grew up in a family that was on the move with a loving but irresponsible father and a mother who suffered with mental health struggles and grew up in a rat-infested apartment after her parents divorced, and worked her way through college doing tap dancing and waitressing and even as a young reporter couch-surfed because landlords were skeptical of renting to beautiful young working women. By the time the series events have started, she is a successful journalist who founded a Ms. magazine and is an influential figure for the women's movement in the media and has a nice apartment.
    • Shirley and Bella, who both grew up in working-class neighborhoods in the 1930s to Immigrant Parents, have fought their way to having very successful careers in politics and are upper-middle class at the least.

  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: This trope is a smear leveled by the STOP ERA ladies against the feminists, who are often dressed feminine, albeit in pants and skirts. Gloria especially suffers this trope, as male establishment leaders see her merely as a beautiful young woman and even some of her allies are embittered that Gloria with her miniskirts and good looks captured the media's attention rather than the substance of their ideas. By the end of the series, Alice and Phyllis are no longer friends and Alice zings Phyllis when the other woman is shocked at her wearing pants and Alice tells her she has a job and "feels liberated."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Alice gives one to Phyllis at the Gala in "Reagan" after she heard that Phyllis advised their younger friend Pamela to submit to her abusive husband and after seeing Phyllis make fun of Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, she calls her out on Pamela and her Stepford Smiler techniques.
    Alice: When did you get so mean?
    Phyllis: Well now I thought you of all people would be enjoying tonight, after all our hard work, I did this for you.
    Alice: No, don't! This is what you do (Phyllis tries to interrupt) You change the subject and you twist things up! Do you even care about me at all?
    Phyllis: Now I did all of this for you.
    Alice: You did all of this for me?!?
    Phyllis: So you would not feel invisible.
    Alice: I've never felt more invisible than when I'm around you!
  • Redhead In Green: The red-haired Pamela wears a bright green dress to Alice's son's wedding.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Just a few examples...
    • In "Betty" the Stepford Smiler Phyllis in her debate with the Hot-Blooded Betty.
    • Within the feminist movement it's easily radical lawyer Flo Kennedy and the more mainstream friendly Shirley Chisholm, Hot-Blooded Betty and the much cooler-headed Gloria Steinem. Actually Betty to almost everyone else.
    • Phyllis can easily be the red (she is very intimidating and not above going above her follower's heads or being passive aggressive to them) and Alice (who is a lot gentler).
    • The calm, easy-going moderate Republican Jill and the more outspoken, assertive, even raunchy Democrat Bella are this especially as noted in Jill when they talk about equal pay on The Hill and one misogynistic congressman tells Bella that if she had a "sense of humor" like Jill she'd be more effective. Averted when Jill vents to Bella and Shirley about she she cannot stand that behavior.
  • Resign in Protest: What the National Advisory Committee for Women do after Bella gets unceremoniously fired by the Carter Administration, with all 22 women resigning one by one, with Gloria adding that "we are not a captive audience". Lampshaded by Jill.
    Jill: Like I haven't quit the White House before.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: Eleanor's opinion of Hair and how Phyllis feels about hearing the mixtapes sent to Liza containing "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Alice launches into this before giving Phyllis "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Alice: There's our Joan of Arc, doesn't she work miracles? Unless your husband's a jerk and then you're on your own.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Averted. The famously outspoken Flo Kennedy and the "unbought and unbossed" Shirley Chisholm are depicted as full characters with different layers and they both grapple with the insensitivity of their white peers and racism. Margaret and Audrey are quiet characters but plain-spoken.
  • Sassy Secretary: Elizabeth Ray, who is also a Sexy Secretary in a unbuttoned sweater and short skirt with long hair who doesn't act deferential to the congresswomen asking to meet with her boss and is seen reading Erica Jong's Fear of Flying.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Alice at the end, after seeing how immoral, egotistical, and power-hungry Phyllis is and how callous she is to Pamela being abused and controlled by her husband (Phyllis making fun of Gloria and Bella didn't help). Alice ends up getting a job as a 411 operator and wears a pantsuit and finds herself empowered, unlike how Phyllis exploited her fears and made her feel invisible.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" is a shout out to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
    • The slap Phyllis gives herself after she is made foolish looking on TV after Brenda pointed out she was lying about a court case and after an argument with Fred, could be one to another antagonistic Stepford Smiler in American Beauty.
  • Shrinking Violet: A few.
    • Alice who doesn't like public speaking and isn't used to expressing herself, given that she was dyslexic in a less tolerant society and was very sheltered in a conservative family, it's justified.
    • Ruth Bader Ginsberg in "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" who is very knowledgable and eloquent when she speaks but when Stan Pottinger suggests she (a happily married feminist) debate Phyllis Schlafly, Ruth blushes and says "Oh no, I don't like the limelight".
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    • Jill delivers this to Phyllis when discussing sexual harassment faced by women on the Hill.
      Jill: You want to get ahead climbing on the shoulders of men, Phyllis? Fine, just know they're looking right up your skirt.
    • Alice gets to deliver this to Phyllis later on.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The often callous and sexist Fred with his kind and more passive younger sister Eleanor (the only thing they have in common other than DNA is their Right Wing politics). This is more evident when Phyllis comes home from a long day of work in Washington D.C. (the Schlaflys live in Illinois) to see Eleanor crying over being an Old Maid and after giving comforting words about how important she is to Phyllis's children, Eleanor leaves explaining she needs to let Phyllis relax after a long day. Later Fred, despite Phyllis's protests that she is tired, coerces her into having sex with him.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Explored in "Bella" when the feminist movement is organizing the National Women's Conference for 1977, Gloria insists that they open up to talking about different issues like lesbian issues and starts a discussion about budget with a mediation on picturing housewives from Toledo, Native Alaskan women from Fairbanks and rural women from the Appalachian country getting on buses to represent their states and experiences to have a voice in government, while the older Bella and Betty want to focus on one core issue (equal pay for women) as Phyllis's effectiveness has been one issue to focus on and they worry that Gloria's vision is of a "magical feminist Woodstock."
  • Slut-Shaming: When Jill (as one Republican to another) talks to Phyllis about how defending gender roles and putting down women's rights won't make her male colleagues respect her and even then it's nothing compared to the sexual harassment faced by the secretaries on the Hill, Phyllis makes a comment about "those women are inviting it" and respectable women hardly get compromised like that. Jill decides to call her out, pointing out that those women are the same as them and could even be like them and they just want a fair shake and go to work with no issues.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat:
    • Phyllis and Betty have this in the restroom while preparing for their debate in "Betty".
      Betty: How do the Birches feel about you powdering your nose in an integrated bathroom?
      Phyllis: I imagine the same way that the militant lesbians feel about you even powdering yours.
      Betty: Just think - if we had the ERA, all the pedophiles and perverts lurking in those stalls would get to witness this special moment.
    • Betty also has this with Bella, albeit friendlier.
      Bella: You don't get the credit you deserve because you're difficult.
      Betty: And you're ruthless and you don't listen.
      Bella: To you. I don't like a know it all.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Three examples
    • The most prominent being Gloria who is very intelligent but because the media likes to cover her for her beauty she mostly gets reduced to her being a pretty face with great legs, deals with the resentment of more average looking and older women like Betty who were in representing the movement in the media for longer and often deals with harassment from her account man and Al Goldstein from Screw magazine.
    • To a lesser extent, Phyllis. She does weaponize her pretty and perfect housewife appearance and claims to enjoy the attention from men, but is shown to chafe at the harassment she faces from men seeing her in a swimsuit or in a political campaign meeting.
    • Jill is clearly considered a favorite of more sexist congressmen whenever she comes with Shirley and Bella to discuss women's issues, due to her ladylike display of humor and her blonde appearance, some even go so far as to try to get in her personal space. As she confided to Bella and Shirley, "I'm always willing to suffer for the cause" and admits to Phyllis that she dealt with harassment from men where they'd touch her backside before she'd get her commission.
  • Southern Belle:
    • The Southern members of the STOP ERA chapters appear with big, elaborate bouffants, a lot of makeup, and rather bigoted language against lesbians and people of color. They are also as hard on integration as they are on communism and socialism.
    • The NOW volunteer that Alice spends time with in "Houston" is very well-dressed in a white suit, ladylike, religious, a devoted matriarch and widow.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • Phyllis of all people deals with this from her husband who sometimes can be demeaning and unsupportive of her and even in spaces with male peers, they have her take notes like a secretary. And at the end of the series, Ronald Reagan thanks her for her efforts to get the Religious Right to get him elected but tells her she isn't assured a position in his administration, which defeats her.
    • Jill gets pushed into the kitchen indirectly by the people for Ford's campaign who are vetting her husband William (and her by proxy) to run for VP on the Ford Presidential campaign and told him that she as a outspoken feminist could be a liability. She relents but alas he doesn't get the VP pick.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Phyllis uses this as an effective tactic when she debates anyone, whether they have opposing views to her or not. In "Gloria", after Phyllis and her STOP ERA followers successfully manage to turn the tide on the ratification of the ERA in their home state of Illinois, she is confronted by two angry pro-ERA politicians who demand to know what of her claims are actually backed up by any facts or evidence. In lieu of a real response, Phyllis remains perfectly stoic and effectively shuts them down by smiling rather unnervingly at them. In "Betty", she uses this tactic once again whilst debating the notoriously very hot-headed and outspoken Betty Friedan on live television, remaining perfectly calm and maintaining her Stepford cool in the face of Betty's rather explosive anger in an effective effort to undermine her. Pamela calls her out on this trait in "Reagan".
    • Brenda and Marc, upon her unplanned pregnancy and the news that she's been seeing Jules, Marc pretty much wonders if their marriage is a charade (Truth in Television bisexuality was hotly contested even in the gay and lesbian communities in The '70s).
  • Straight Gay:
    • Margaret Sloan, who appears in typical 70's gear for a black progressive and intellectual (afro, aviator glasses, dashikis, turtlenecks, ponchos, funky earrings) is an open lesbian.
    • Phyllis's son John Schlafly who is attired in the way most young men would be in the 1970s.
    • Jean O'Leary, a gay rights activist who led the first delegation where LGBT activists met with Jimmy Carter. She has short pixie hair and wears Chanel-style suits that look conservative enough to be worn by Phyllis Schlafly.
  • Straw Feminist: How Phyllis and her followers see the "libbers"; in reality the feminist characters run a gamut of personalities and even politics, from soft-spoken and direct Gloria to the more caustic Betty to the intelligent albeit Properly Paranoid Shirley Chisholm.
  • Sugary Malice: Phyllis weaponizes this in her debate with Betty where she is cool to Betty's explosive but manages to sneak in a dig at Betty's divorce and her lack of beauty.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Phyllis is a very intelligent woman, but by episode five she’s not a lawyer yet. She gets clobbered the first time she debates an actual lawyer. She makes up a case out of thin air about a father getting custody of the kids while the mother has to pay child support after their divorce. Brenda sees through it and asks her to cite the case. She can’t do it. Brenda points out that in a real courtroom, you can’t do that. Fred tells her later that he didn’t defend her because Brenda was right.
    • In "Houston", Alice tells a news reporter that a majority of people in the United States oppose the ERA but the reporter tells her all the polls say that a majority of Americans support it. Given that Alice has been only in Phyllis's orbit and has only been consuming their propaganda, it was likely.
  • Tempting Fate: At the 1972 Democratic convention, Gloria is annoyed at George McGovern being chosen as the nominee over other, bolder candidates. Yet she joins others shrugging it off as "at least we don't have to worry about four more years of Nixon."note 
  • Think of the Children!: STOP ERA's motivation, fearing there will be a draft and they won't have the privileges to stay home with their children and that, horrors of horrors, their kids will be around gay people and people of color(if you want to go by the Southern racist members' fears). Played up with their "Pro-Family Rally" signs saying "Mommy when I grow up will I be a lesbian" with a illustrated little girl.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Alice goes from a shy, sheltered, submissive housewife to a outwardly open-minded, more confident woman who stands up for her beliefs and calls out her toxic peers.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Lottie Beth Hobbs to Phyllis. Somehow when the two are together they encourage each other's virulent sexism, hatred of their opponents and hatred in general, their cruelty, and their apathy towards people with problems (like battered wives). While Alice is regretful about not vetting their guards and bus drivers to make sure they aren't Klansmen, Phyllis seems to let Lottie Beth the go ahead on letting Klansmen act as guardians, with Lottie Beth clearly showing an apathy towards any concern about white supremacists in their movement.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Gloria's usual mode when she is pissed off, often in contrast to Phyllis's and Betty's more strident mannerisms. She's even tranquil when she issues a Precision F-Strike.
    • Shirley in "Shirley" after an argument with Bella gets this, alluding to how black women in her position are beholden to "respectability politics" and replies to Bella, cool and collected, "If you can't support me, get out of my way."
  • True Blue Femininity: All over the place. The STOP ERA housewives, the feminists at Ms., politicians like Shirley and Bella, Jill, Betty, Brenda, Liza (formerly Phyllis Jr.), Phyllis, most of the women (and girls) in the series have worn blue at a few times in the series. Phyllis is even seen wearing blue eyeshadow the most. Indeed after she gets a call from Reagan rejecting her for his cabinet, she sadly starts to prepare dinner in her kitchen, while wearing the same powder blue suit she wore during the call.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • The calm, easy-going moderate Republican Jill and the more outspoken, assertive, even raunchy Democrat Bella are this, often teaming up for women's causes in the Washington D.C. workforce and hanging out at the same social gatherings. Jill tends to be frustrated with anti Nixon jabs early in the series but in "Reagan" she clearly is loyal to Bella after the latter gets fired by President Carter and resigns from White House's group on women's issues.
    • In general most of the figures of the National Women Caucus with the (admittedly) difficult Betty Friedan in contrast to the main STOP ERA figures and their smiling, ladylike appearance of a collective force while Phyllis and Rosemary are cold to Pamela's struggles and to Alice's moral objections over the kind of people they are aligning with.
    • An affectionate example with Betty and her friend Natalie. In one scene in "Betty" where Gloria goes to visit Betty's apartment to tell her to not debate Phyllis, Natalie (who was caring for Betty's plants) tells Gloria that Betty is very capable of handling Phyllis and names the other women's animosity with Betty. When Gloria explains that Betty is probably more pleasant with Natalie than with them, Natalie stops her and says that Betty is difficult (and lacks a green thumb) but if it weren't for her work, there wouldn't be all the women's organizations that exist and that she should think to thank Betty for them (later Gloria takes that advice and tells Betty her book "changed my life").
    • On the STOP ERA side: Phyllis and Rosemary, whom the former treats as ridiculous and reacts impatiently to, even belittling her about Senator Helms's aide writing his forward to her book in front of their team.

  • We Used to Be Friends: What Alice's and Phyllis's friendship is shaping up to, where they started the series where Alice was a shy and sheltered "ringer" (as Liza a.k.a. Phyllis Jr. put it) to Phyllis's dominant and worldly persona, starts coming to ends when Alice sees how cruel Phyllis can be to her and Pamela and how little morals or compassion Phyllis has. In "Reagan", Alice has renounced Phyllis as a friend and turned her back on STOP ERA and got a job.
  • Weight Woe: At least a few examples.
    • In "Phyllis" Alice and Phyllis tell a pregnant Pamela that nursing rather than feeding the baby formula will help her lose the baby weight she will gain and that Phyllis was 40 when she gave birth to Anne and nursed her and weighed the same as she did on her wedding day and doesn't look bigger with the tv cameras.
    • The very slim Phyllis is seen early in "Gloria" furiously doing sit ups in a blouse and skirt (with a brooch) during a commercial for diet soda where a woman in a red jumpsuit talked about how her husband only got to notice her in the jumpsuit after she lost weight. Phyllis's priorities are of being the figurehead and the picture-perfect wife, which also includes being conventionally attractive and trim with perfect hair.
    • Heavyset Bella Abzug jokes about this with Gloria and Jill, saying she is upset enough about McGovern not taking on abortion for his platform because she is eating a hot dog on the grapefruit diet and good-naturedly snarking about Jill's remarks to stick with the program the way Weight Watchers does.
      Bella: What do you know about Weight Watchers?
    • When looking over a spread at Bella's after her Congressional defeat, the very slim Gloria tells Midge that they can tell Bella and Martin that they're on a diet, to which Midge snarks "You're always on a diet" note .
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: In "Betty", Betty Friedan is constantly stressing over her daughter being closer to her stepmother and over her approval.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Phyllis's daughters (especially the scared of swimming Anne) and the closeted John who deal with a cold mother who is very perfectionist, homophobic, and a Female Misogynist. She tells John if she can quit smoking, he can quit being gay and forces Anne to go to her swim lesson even though the girl is very scared.
  • What Have I Done: Alice's reaction when she sees how hurt the lesbian feminists like Midge are by the anti-lesbian propaganda and ads she and her peers put for the "Pro-Family Rally" in Houston, she whispers "I'm sorry" and while she stands in unison with STOP ERA against the inclusion of lesbian rights, she looks regretful.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In "Shirley" Betty threatens to write an expose on Gloria and Bella after they meet with McGovern (for the failed attempt to get him to include Women's reproductive rights on the Democratic platform) while supporting Shirley.
    • Also Shirley and Bella get into a heated debate whether Shirley should drop out or not and then Bella, referring to how Shirley accepted money and support from the Black Panthers, that her campaign is a joke. Which jars Gloria and Betty and Shirley replies, "You said you would always support me. Why couldn't you go all the way?" Then Bella settles down, feeling guilty.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: A lesbian dance club and bar is shown in "Phyllis & Fred & Brenda & Marc" where Brenda dances and makes out with Jules and they talk to Margaret. Though this club plays 1960s French pop rather than disco.
  • White Man's Burden: Phyllis's relationship with her Black maid Willie and also explored when Alice protests that Phyllis wouldn't be a racist because Phyllis has a kind relationship with Willie and taught Willie's son how to read; nevermind that Phyllis is Willie's employer and mostly donates her discarded canned food to Willie's family as it wasn't good enough for Phyllis's family.
  • Wild Hair: Phyllis gets this in "Bella" when she is staying home to avoid facing Bella Abzug and with her hot flashes, this is a departure from her well-coiffed and lacquered over appearance, and also a scene where she reveals to Alice how far she is willing to go to win.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Phyllis and Phil Crane who flirt together. They don't.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Aron Kay, the man who put a pie to Phyllis's face in "Bella", did this hard enough to get her eye bandaged.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Betty and Bella pepper their speech with Yiddish words. The gentile Jill picks up a few phrases, to the amusement of the other ERA feminists; as in Real Life most of the women at the National Women's Political Caucus and at the head of the feminist movement were either Jewish (Bella, Brenda, Betty), or commonly assumed to be (Gloria), and it contrasts with the conservative Christian STOP ERA led by Phyllis.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In "Houston" Alice meets a woman over drinks where she discusses her friendship with Phyllis and the woman is shocked that Phyllis checks Alice's correspondence for any political mistakes, remarking "You don't seem to have any trouble expressing yourself" and the episode does center on Alice meeting different kind of feminists at the convention and she owns her views about how she has a consensus with them and that she can speak for herself.
  • You Are What You Hate: In "Bella", during a meeting in Illinois with Phyllis's band of housewives Bella tells Pamela, Rosemary, and Alice that Phyllis is ironically "the most liberated woman in America." Then later when Pamela says that they don't want to be "working girls" (with some disdain there), Bella asks them about what Phyllis taught them like: lobbying legislators, drafting press reports and speeches, how to answer reporter's questions, get an interview with the media, how to create and balance a budget. And when Alice answers yes, Bella answers "Congratulations, you're working girls."