GLOW is a new Netflix series that’s been in the news for a while. The storyline, a man who starts a women’s wrestling series in the eighties immediately caught the attention of professional wrestling fans. The show also became a conversation point for people who opined that women in entertainment and media have never got their due.
The initial buzz was great; there was this risk of the show not working. The reason was simple. Mainstream has yet to embrace professional wrestling as a business – let along a platform where some of the greatest human stories are written. To make it work, the makers would need to walk the thin line between campy entertainment and impactful stories of women in an entertainment industry that never really treated them as equals. Did they succeed?
Hell, yes, they did. GLOW is one of those shows that grab you by your collar and have you watch it. This isn’t a show that grows on you, this isn’t a show that you say you will watch and don’t get to it. No, this is a show that takes you in a headlock/chinlock and keeps you there till the end credits.
The characters are a masterpiece. Whether it’s Sam, the person who puts up GLOW together, or Ruth, the struggling actress who joins GLOW because she has nowhere to go. Or the various women who take up professional wrestling because well, that’s all they have. There’s an immensely lovable stunt double couple that suddenly find themselves under the arc lights as themselves.
Then there’s a once-was-actress who’s torn between batting her eyelids to all the adulation and going back to a husband and newborn kid. The whole show is the dream of the rich kid for whom women’s professional wrestling is a dream that he wants to bring to the squared circle. Of course, his mother, who controls the purse strings, doesn’t bother for ‘this kind’ of entertainment.
What GLOW also does, very beautifully, if we may add, is talk about the pulp films of the 80s, the pain and loss that an individual in the creative world feels as they struggle, so on and so forth. GLOW throws open the doors of a grimy, sweaty world that a millennial will watch like they watch something that’s so gross and offensive but also weirdly beautiful to look at.
Above and beyond, it’s stunning that the story of GLOW is relevant even in 2017, though the show is set in the 80s. Women’s professional wrestling is still considered a filler, with the world’s biggest professional wresting promotion, WWE, only now getting towards making Women’s wrestling the next big thing.
Wrestling fans will love the series. This is one of the few series where they will be able to see not just a professional wrestler but also the business of wrestling evolving through time. We don’t know if the writers have all these in mind, but we are waiting for the story arcs where the characters stop taking real hits and start choreographing their fights. That started sometime in the mid 90s, because wrestling promoters didn’t want their talent injured. We are waiting for the story arc of censorship troubles for women’s wrestling, when male wrestling routinely ran under the radar – some of that has already been hinted in the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ sequence.
What’s WOW: Making period pieces is difficult and require a lot of money. The makers do it right, and transport the audience to the world of the ‘80s. The performances are top class all through. What’s literally WOW is that it’s a platform for more than 25 characters, and an incredible actor plays each of them.
What’s Blah: Nothing.
Parting Shot: ‘GLOW’ is a must watch. Watch this one.
Cast: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Marc Maron, Jackie Tohn, Kate Nash
You can watch this on Netflix
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