The frizzled hair, spandex, over the top gimmicks and tantalising action portrayed in GLOW perfectly encapsulates 80’s mainstream womens’ wrestling. Based on the Gorgeous Ladies’ Of Wrestling professional wrestling promotion, The Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch created comedy GLOW manages to accurate convey an inaccurate tale of the Wrestling promotion
Alison Brie, who some may know as Annie from Community, plays Ruth Wilder, a down an out actress during the mid-1980’s in Hollywood, struggling to find work due to not being seen as a gender stereotype. Struggling to pay her utilities and dependent on her parent’s, She reads an ad for a gig out in the Valley, and decides’ to take it. It I here where she is introduced to the world of Wrestling, as she is hired (despite some reluctance) By Shady b-movie director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). Hired by Young hotshot Sebastian Howard (Chris Lowell) to create the Gorgeous Ladies’ of Wrestling, Sam Sylvia is tasked teach a broad spectrum of personalities, ranging from Jenny Chey, a soft spoken Asian lady played by Angela Fong, Tamme Dawson (Kia Stevens AKA Awesome Kong), a large African American lady tasked to play the politically incorrect ‘Welfare Queen’, and Rhonda Richardson (Kate Nash) A brash British lady known as ‘Britannica’ and Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel) A loudmouth punk, amongst others. Adding to the plot, Ruth faces constant friction from former friend and Daytime TV Star Debby Eagan (Betty Gilpin) after having an affair with her Husband Mark (Rich Sommer) These issues are all face during the development of the television show, to which Sam Sylvia says ‘If we can find one Hulk Hogan out of this, we’ve hit the F****** Jackpot.’
One of the biggest guilty pleasures of this show is seeing wrestling portrayed in a positive light. As a fan, it has been disheartening to see wrestling portrayed so negatively though Movie’s such as 2000’s Ready to Rumble and 2008’s The Wrestler, It is sobering seeing wrestling portrayed in a more light-hearted and fun manner.
My personal respect for the actor’s knowing that they went through a mini crash course in order to be able to perform several move’s is heightened when seeing Alison Brie perform various moves such as a Frog Splash and an Arm Drag. For any wrestling’s fans watching, keep an eye out for wrestler’s such as Tyrus, Alex Riley, Joey Ryan, Johnny Mundo and The Addiction (Christopher Daniel’s and Frankie Kazarian).
Another aspect of the television series I like is the ability to incorporate themes of female empowerment and femininity without making it feel forced or pointless. Ruth is constantly depicted as a free-spirited, strong woman yet still managing to encapsulate a certain vulnerability and nativity needed for her character. Similarly, the character of Debbie Eagan is a character constantly portrayed as powerful, from the way she deals with her Husband mark and the shady Sam Sylvia.
I think that Hollywood could learn from Glow in how to depict a feminism and a positive manner, potentially inspiring a rethink of how we can properly display women in a television series without making it feel forced or done for the sake of it. I feel that GLOW has learnt from the mistakes of the recent Ghostbuster’s film and have managed to write a female orientated show for the right reasons, and I highly commend the creator’s for that.
Despite this, I was disappointed to find the TV Series to be a somewhat inaccurate depiction of actual events. Whilst I understand the creator’s aim to create their own bunch of character’s, I feel that you could of have fun with some of the original character’s such as Big Bad Mama, Dementia two, Gremlina and Hollywood amongst others. Despite this, I feel that the directors effectively managed to give each character unique personalities.
Another Nit-picky aspect of the show was shown as the women were studying wrestling. I feel that they failed to show enough female wrestling in order to encapsulate the theme of the show. I feel that the inclusion of a clip from Wendi Richter or Cyndi Lauper could have done a lot to showcase womens wrestling of the era whilst not making the television series feel forced.
GLOW is a fun show about wrestling that respects the business whilst maintaining a fun, light-hearted nature about it. Spearheaded towards fans of television series’ such as Orange is the New Black and Lucha Underground. It manages to balance the line between comedy and drama expertly and coupled with a general quirkiness, excellent direction, and a smart script, this is one of the most enjoyable new television series of 2017. I highly recommend this for all feminist, due to a well depicted cast of strong women, wrestling fans for its respect for the business, and anyone who like’s smart comedies.
Review by Jayke Luland