by Mike Lunsford, Editor
When it comes to things that everyone remembers fondly from the 1980s, GLOW has got to be number 257, right between Falco and Rhinestone. When word began that they were going to make a series on Netflix based on the syndicated women’s professional wrestling circuit, there wasn’t a giant fervor. However, there are weirdos like me who remember watching this show as a kid. A Netflix interpretation was right up my alley and the “produced by Jenji Kohan of OITNB fame” tag line didn’t hurt, either. While GLOW was overall a good product, the series was lacking in several places.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with GLOW, it is an acronym that stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The show stars Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men, The Lego Movie) as Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress who shows up to a casting call for a new all-women’s wrestling organization. The promoter, Sam Sylvia (stand-up comedian Marc Maron) is not a fan of Ruth’s propensity to overact and is set to kick her to the curb…until her best friend Debbie Eagan shows up. Debbie (Betty Gilpin, Nurse Jackie, American Gods) found out that Ruth was sleeping with her husband and the altercation turns into an in-ring fight. Sam falls in love with this side of Ruth’s “act” and lets her stay, but only if Debbie does, too. How is Ruth going to convince her former best friend to stay on when she hates her guts now? Well…you’ll just need to watch and find out for yourself!
Overall, GLOW was good. It is definitely worth your time to view it to completion. However, it was not nearly as good as it could have been. The storyline was cheesy and there were way too many predictable turns (no, I’m not talking about the wrestling stories). It felt way too forced, and overall, felt way too much like OITNB. That is not normally a bad thing, but when a producer makes a big name for themselves with another series, having some differentiation is important. You have the same trope characters: the annoying, pain-in-the-ass white girls, the black women who don’t like stereotypes, a rift in a relationship/friendship… and there’s nothing wrong with going back to the well when it works, but this felt cheap. The “my best friend slept with my husband” thing felt like a wrestling gimmick instead of the backbone of the series.
There were several redeeming qualities of this series. As a kid, I was a huge wrestling fan, some of my fondest memories involving events from the 80s and 90s. It’s been years since I’ve watched a televised event but I found myself recognizing every move as the matches commenced. It took about 6 episodes into the series (10 in total) for them to do any sizable wrestling. That frustrated me. When they were finally into it though, I was giddy. “That was a hurricanrana! Oh snap, she just did a cross body block! Nice drop kick!” And the execution was precise. The moves were not cheap facsimiles made for actresses, they were doing the real moves and doing them justice. Veteran of the WWE Chavo Guerrero was a consultant on set, teaching many of the actresses the moves. Other pros such as Carlito, John Morrison, and Brodus Clay were in several episodes, giving the show an automatic stamp of approval. Former TNA star Kia Stevens even plays Tammé in the series! If only there had been more actual wrestling.
Another huge win from this series was Marc Maron. The storyline was weak at points and very predictable, but Marc Maron was dynamite as director Sam Sylvia. He is dark, disturbed, pathetic, tragic and hilarious. Of all the characters in the series, his showed the most depth. Now, if this series gets subsequent seasons, I’d love to see the growth of the other characters (not even sure if that’s in talks, but what DOESN’T get second seasons/sequels nowadays?). As of season 1, Marc Maron stole the show.
Is GLOW worth your time? Yes. It’s entertaining, funny, sad at times, and the characters feel real. It drags at various points, the storylines feel predictable, and there is not nearly enough wrestling for a series about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. If you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll be wanting more at the conclusion of the series. As much as the storyline may have disappointed me, I can’t fault them for using this tried-and-true device. A story about friendship collapsing because of our own poor decisions. Look at what an expert says on the topic:
ComicsOnline gives GLOW 3 1/2 clotheslines out of 5.
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