02 Aug 3 Reasons Why Netflix Original GLOW is Great (& You Should Watch It Right Now)
So. Netflix has a new original drama/comedy series out (well, relatively new). You might have heard of it. GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling.) It’s about a WOMEN’S WRESTLING TV SHOW and it’s EIGHTIES AF.
My initial thoughts upon hearing about it were:
a.) Women fighting each other in lyrca. Well, I’m sure guys will love that – unsure what I’m going to get out of it though.
b.) Why is wrestling seeming to get more popular by the day. IT’S FAKE FIGHTING, WHAT IS THE APPEAL. I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
That may seem a bit narrow minded and dismissive, but I’m just being honest.
In the end I decided to give it a go because:
a.) Alison Brie (the protagonist, you may know her as Annie from Community) is pretty good in my books
b.) Jenji Kohan (Orange is The New Black) is producer
c.) I love pretty much anything that involves 80’s fashion or music (the opening song is The Warrior. Go on. Treat yourself to the ridiculous music video in that link, I’ll wait.)
It took me up until about the third or fourth episode to actually become invested. Up until that point I was tentatively, reservedly watching with my arms (metaphorically) crossed, trying in vain to leave my preconceived notions about wrestling at the door.
(If the wrestling element is putting you off, it’s not really about wrestling. I mean, it is but it’s just one facet of this comedy drama.)
Intrigued? Read on for why you should add GLOW to your Netflix list.
1. Because… it hits you in the feelings
GLOW is primarily a comedy but it manages to weave through some deeper subjects amid all the laughs. I’ve been welling up at least once each episode.
GLOW begins with the rejection of desperate aspiring actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) for the part in her latest audition. Ruth is told that she’s too “real” as a female actress and that her acting style isn’t what Hollywood wants.
GLOW is teeming with the cringey desperation of this complicated character from the very onset. Ruth has some incredibly unlikeable traits but she will somehow manage to win you over despite how her social interactions will make your toes curl.
Tipped off about a casting call seeking out “unconventional women” Ruth finds herself in a wrestling ring in a dingy, run-down gym filled with vibrant, diverse characters such as Rhonda or “Brittanica,” played by Kate Nash (who is fabulous), and sardonic, cynical director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron).
As the ladies start to develop their own wrestling personas, Ruth struggles to form her own. She’s questioning who she is, how people see her, and the discrepancy between the two. The theme of finding yourself/personal growth is prevalent without being too heavy handed. Training up to evolve into their powerful, hilarious wrestling personas we see different sides to the characters as they find the confidence to put themselves out there in the wrestling world in lycra and ridiculously great wrestling storylines.
Sure, training up for such a ridiculous show is funny but it’s also super emotional at points. In a scene that will have you choking up, Ruth argues with her fellow wrestler, Sheila, whose fashion sense is heavily inspired by wolves (hey, unconventional women) to the point where she transforms herself every morning. Ruth in frustration calls her “you goddamn wolf” and taken aback Sheila affirms she’s been “wearing this or some version of this every day for the past five years. It’s not a costume. This is me. And what I do in the morning, what I put on, what I wear… it’s not for you. It is for me.”
Which leads me nicely into my next reason you should watch GLOW…
2. Because… it’s EMPOWERING
I find that word to be a little bit cringey but sure, we’ll roll with it.
Like OITNB the women in GLOW are portrayed in a very candid, diverse way. They don’t look perfect all the time and shock horror, they have flaws.
Not that I take issue with my fellow females looking their best it’s more that I resent when women in TV, movies, and the media generally are portrayed as effortlessly flawless goddesses 24/7, informing the masses in some way that this what real women should look like.
For instance, I keep thinking about the time I heard someone saying their male friend liked “natural” looking women who don’t wear that much make up. “Like Kim Kardashian.” Ummmm.
In a world where Kim K’s look is thought of as “natural” something needs to be done to upturn this misinformation and that’s where the authentic, candid portrayals of complex female characters in shows such as OITNB, Broad City and now, GLOW come in. It’s as though shows like these are putting a middle finger up to the unending female pressure of trying to look perfect all the time and are just embracing female diversity in style and body image. And as someone who regularly gets stressed about wanting to look perfect all the time I find shows like these very empowering.
GLOW doesn’t hold back portraying the ladies in a very authentic, dynamic way. They look their fabulous best in some scenes and in others their looks are a bit more NATURAL and toned down, and that’s COMPLETELY FINE.
They also flail around the ring in lycra with a confidence I can only dream of. It’s all ridiculous and fun and impossible not to smile at. My fav character, married mum of one, Debbie, sums it all up perfectly when she’s chatting to Ruth about the show:
“You know what the craziest part of this whole mess is? I actually like wrestling. I don’t know; it’s like I’m back in my body and it doesn’t belong to Randy or Mark, and I’m using it for me, and I feel like a goddamn superhero.”
Kate Nash has aired similar praise of the empowering element of the show describing how:
“I think wrestling has taught me to use my body with purpose and I worried less about looking good – I wanted to be a good wrestler, I wanted to have my feet in the right position.”
3. Because… female friendship
The Guardian’s Rachel Aroesti wrote how GLOW “showcases those outrageous wrestling characters and the similarly outrageous sexism faced by the women playing them with a discombobulating combination of censure and dumb glee.” While GLOW incorporates racial and class stereotypes through the wrestling personas that the women adopt, this is carried out in a very tongue-in-cheek manner rather than one that revels in it in any way. GLOW transcends the stereotypes and puts female friendship and camaraderie as its focal point.
These are women trying to make a living through acting. The show suggests that this can only be done through adapting to the limited acting opportunities for women at the time. Covering a wide range of bases when it comes to racial stereotypes, GLOW incorporates a middle eastern terrorist, “Fortune Cookie” the Chinese wrestler (who is actually Cambodian), “Liberty Belle” the small town American blonde, “Zoya the Destroya” the Russian soviet, among others.
Rather than perpetuating preconceived stereotypes, the show takes the piss with them, pokes fun at them if you will, and shows them up in all their ridiculousness. With such a diverse cast we see that the women are much more than their wrestling personas and that this is a supportive group of women sticking together and doing what they need to do to carve out a career in acting.
There’s a pretty uplifting scene after a gap in the script when Debbie leaves the ring mid-fight. All the women pull together and get into the ring to sing Rhonda’s makeshift GLOW rap song together and manage finish the match off on a high note despite confusion from the audience. This was probably the defining moment where I was like yes, I am invested in this.
Have you watched GLOW? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.