GLOW, or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, was the underdog of 2017, having been nominated for various awards at the Golden Globes and SAG awards yet not taking home any prizes. With little other mass exposure on the internet, GLOW is somewhat of a hidden Netflix gem, and it does not disappoint.
We first meet Ruth Wilder (an almost unrecognisable Alison Brie), a struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles. After failing to gain any success at any of her auditions and in a desperate attempt to earn some form of income, she is given a mysterious opportunity by a casting agent.
Turning up the following day to what appears to be an abandoned warehouse, she soon discovers that she is at a group audition for a ladies wrestling show with B-movie film director Sam Sylvia (Mark Maron). Desperate to show off her acting skills and creativity, Ruth soon finds herself out of her depth with no knowledge of the wrestling world yet desperate to impress.
The season then follows Ruth and the rest of her wrestling colleagues as they learn about the world of wrestling, whilst struggling with their personal lives. Also based on the real-life ladies wrestling movement of the 1980s, it is a true throwback to the pop culture and music of the time, making this show a feast for the eyes and ears.
The first episode is a brilliant opener of what is actually a fairly short season; there are only 10 episodes which each only last just over half an hour. With the first episode lasting slightly longer, the writers have allowed themselves to set up almost each individual storyline which is then set to continue through the rest of the season. Where it may seem like a lot of information being crammed into one episode, it essentially works very well as all the cards are on the table yet omitting just enough to keep the audience hooked.
For a comedy series it is successful in exploring the themes of the show in a short amount of time. Most comedy series we are used to are anything up to 24 episodes in length at just 25 minutes long, but GLOW doesn’t let itself delve too deeply into various side stories that would inevitably detract from the main storyline. It has it’s gimmick, it has a host of good time relevant references, and a brilliant ensemble cast.
Most shows don’t contain such a large ensemble cast that all play an integral part to the show. Yes, some characters are explored more than others, but when it comes to each character’s persona and the wrestling scenes, everyone has equal time to shine. The characters who are given more screen time however, are all people we want to root for no matter their flaws. There is no outright protagonist or antagonist. The development of each character through the season brings them all together rather than pitting the women against each other.
Even during the wrestling matches they eventually perform, they are cheering each other on whilst they play on the tired “girl fight” gimmick. Most shows usually start with some form of equilibrium which is thrown off and only then restored in the closing moments. GLOW, however, starts off with an imbalance which is slowly restored as the show goes on – this is portrayed through the slow uniting of the women.
Containing a cast almost entirely of women, we really get a full representation of the different types of women there are, with no negativity towards any of those who seem to fall out of the so-called norm. This is likely thanks to the show being created and produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black), who has a clear knack for representing complex female characters. It is the show’s inclusivity which makes it fun to watch and extremely relatable. Each character is so unique yet ironically, for the purpose of their wrestling persona, they play into the stereotypes of their look or ethnicity, making for an extremely intelligent comedy. Using the stereotypes as a joke to essentially break that same stereotype back down is a brilliant subtlety of the show that cannot be rivalled by anything else
GLOW certainly qualifies as binge-worthy, it is a truly addictive and feel-good watch throughout. It has genuinely hilarious moments, heart-warming and emotional storylines, and it is difficult to switch off from. You can’t help but want to find out how they get through all the obstacles in their way and how each character is going to develop. It is complete escapism television at its best.
We give GLOW 4 stars for being a brilliant show, but unfortunately it left us disappointed there wasn’t more. With rich dialogue and wit however, it is an impeccable show that will leave you excited for the second season.
GLOW Season 1 is streaming on Netflix now, with Season 2 landing later this month.