Brooke speaks with 'Mrs. America' creator Dahvi Waller
Previously a writer on. Amc's madman now. You've done Mrs America. Why is this era so interesting to you? I think I'm really drawn to eras of social upheaval and disruption. Because there's always so much fallout and in the fallout lies. A lot of drama particularly the backlash to the Women's Liberation Movement. Backlash to everything. That was everything the fact that I was show excited to write for madman. I think speaks to my interest in this time period and particularly the gender dynamics. I think what excited me about? Miss America is bringing the women the Jones and the Peggy's to the forefront of the story and really centering on them there really isn't I don't think one scene and Miss America. That doesn't have a woman in it. The other big differences of course is a true story and very quickly that writing a true story. Even though you're fixing and imagining a lot of the conversations is a whole other ballgame but in your depiction of the fight over the era and the fight for women's rights in general in the Nineteen Seventies. You don't start with Betty for Dan or Gloria Steinem you start with Phyllis schlafly. I am not against women succeeding. I am not against women working outside the home. That's their choice. But what I am against is a small elitist group of northeastern establishment liberals putting down homemakers so many shows and films about social movements are told from the point of view of the leaders of the Social Change Movement never from the point of view of the leader of the opposition to it. Other reason that I really was committed. You know following the two thousand sixteen election to telling the story from fills his point of view even though it had its challenges was because I realized following the election that this story was about much more than the equal rights amendment battle is much broader story about how this country took a sharp turn right at the end of the seventies and the ascendancy of the new right. It is true that as you tell the story it's clear that four schlafly and for the nation it wasn't solely about women's rights but about the fight over the soul of the Republican Party and the solidifying of the conservative movement and the future direction of the nation. You've been trying to get it far right candidate into the White House since Goldwater Reagan Challenges Ford and suddenly. You're growing your power base forming alliances with other conservative Churches Mormons well with direction. The country is going. I think I need all the help I can get and I think that you are using the fight over women's equality to build a mailing list of women who would support a conservative presidential candidate like Reagan Barry Goldwater who Philips wrote a biography of and she was a huge fan of his and he had that stunning defeat in nineteen sixty four. He said in an interview in the late sixties that the far right of the country conservatives are in a minority in both parties and they needed to take over one party if they were ever going to have power so this really is about the right wing of this country amassing power and Phyllis schlafly story dovetails into that. She raised a grassroots army. That became foot soldiers in the Reagan. Revolution was seeing that was particularly hard to convey. All is where we had to depict. The area ratification process is very challenging. The Equal Rights Amendment sailed through the Senate Hawaii ratified less than thirty minutes after the Senate vote. Delaware New Hampshire. We'll have it ratified tomorrow. We have seven years but we'll get it done one. It's not an easy process. Understand like how are we going to explain to audiences about it? Sounding like we're laying pipe. What exactly this crazy process is you have to go through to get an amendment into the institution. That is totally not the answer to that question but I figured that it might be the complexity of the character of Phyllis schlafly because she's fiery. She's educated and she rises by fighting the kinds of policies that would have afforded more opportunities to women like her. She never wrote memoirs. Who say and you get to see her in her public life but you to pick her at home a really compelling balancing act between submission and domination and love and resentment there is a ton of footage. Avila Schlafly. I mean. She kept copious videos of every public appearance. She made there. Isn't that much footage of her and her private life. Although there are some old films that she took in her house. You know in the fifties but one of her biographers caravels. Paul wrote a really intimate biography of her and spent time in her house with her children with her sister-in-law and her husband interviewed all of them. She came on as a consultant of the show and I spent a lot of time talking with her. And that really gave us a glimpse into her private life in a way that the video footage just can't at the end of it it is invention you can't ever Noah conversations happened behind closed doors or can't get inside her head you know. No one can not. Even children can get really insider had or or know what she was feeling. So that's the work of the writer. I think the reason I didn't bring it up as the hardest scenes derived because those complexities are what bring me joy as a writer. What do you think the era men to women on both sides of the argument back? Then you know. For Progressive Women suffrage had given them the vote but had not given them equality in the law. There is still rampant discrimination. There still is today in the workplace in marriage laws and family law. I certainly was alive working at a time. When wives couldn't apply for their own credit card. I know even as far as nineteen seventy one which is so insane to think about so I think for young women in the early Seventies. The era was a chance to rectify that to say once and for all that in the constitution men and women are equal under the law. Which means that. No law can discriminate on the basis of your gender and the truth is that equality for women under the law. Shouldn't be threatening to anyone really well. It did start as a bipartisan idea which might surprise some people. Republicans supported and Democrats. Nixon endorsed it. It was looking to get ratified. They thought within a year or two. And what Phillips did was. She tapped into anxieties that a lot of traditional conservative women had about becoming invisible in a society where women are entering the workforce and being a stay at home wife and mother is no longer the feminine ideal by taking the IRA. And saying it's going to make your husband leave you for someone younger. You'll be without any financial support. And you'RE GONNA be forced into the workforce and forced to work even though you're only skills taking care of your house and this terrified these women and so they began to see the equal rights amendment as very threatening and I have sympathy for that. Ironically though Phyllis in the course of this era battle empower these women to become political activists and gave them many skill that would help them become. Very successful in the workforce. I think a lot of people would be surprised. That schlafly was dedicated to issues of national security. She was worried about Soviet aggression. The US delegation has naively been telling the Russians pieces. Wonderful try it you liked. It's like life cereal but I think they're going to get the last laugh because the only country that's going to comply with the pact the United States they don't comply we'll know what we the experts maintain. We have the most advanced satellite Phyllis had I twenty year career in defense policy. She got her masters and Harvard. Studied Military Strategy and nuclear policy and she was fairy terrified of nuclear annihilation at the hands of the Russians and in nineteen seventy one seventy two when the are a is making its way through Congress. She's very focused on. Nixon signing the Saul Treaty. She felt this would be a disaster when she was interviewed. During this time period people would interview her about the equal rights amendment. And she always well. I hope this thing is settled. Soon we can get back to defense policies. The stories that occur in the series housewives who become working women in launching. The Eagle Forum like Alice played by Sarah Paulson. We see her go through a transition. I I.