Review: Netflix’ GLOW is a splendid blend of many things—from campy female wrestling, satire to telly industry, feminism spirit and rage against racial stereotypes—that work fascinatingly. Presented as a period piece which sees L.A. circa 1985, the show radicalizes the era’s fascination towards glazing neon and devotion to day-time soap opera, then mixes them together in an exhilarating, vibrant ‘fake-sport’ drama.
In GLOW, a struggling actress, Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) is disheartened upon finding out that the industry has suppressed female roles to the brink of marginalization. When she encounters a desperate B-movie director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron)—who develops ‘The Gorgeous Lady of Wrestling’ a.k.a. GLOW for a TV channel, she surprisingly finds an absurdly empowering opportunity. From there, the line between pro-wrestling and soap opera begins to blur; and a road to stardom emerges.
GLOW amplifies almost everything, including the decade indicators—from spandex to quirky Malibu robots. However, the show takes its time to finally get into the ring. Instead of working out to prepare the ‘athletes’ for real wrestling match, it works on characters’ backstories and racial stereotypes to pave the way into their Wrestlemania.
Brie’s Ruth gets most spotlights as an inept protagonist. She’s craving for something real for her plummeting career; but, her idealism and bad luck seem to overshadow her. Short of money and opportunity has led her to commit the mistake of her life which set apart her friendship with a former soap opera star, Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin). Sam sees the ex-BFF’s rift as a contingency to head-start GLOW by making Debbie the star of the show and Ruth the arch-nemesis—a sub-plot which juxtaposes perfectly with the characters’ backstories. Ruth and Debbie’s on-ring and off-ring drama practically becomes the nucleus of the show.
The rest of GLOW is motored by the battle against stereotypes and television industry’s exploitation of it. The show often amplifies those racial stereotypes to some absurd level, but it successfully delivers how this show is against those kinds of labeling, instead of supporting. Therefore, the multi-colored wrestler rosters reflect the theme wisely.
When GLOW finally gets into the wrestle ring, the all-amplified absurdity and thematic gusto collide into a volatile bonanza. When it happens, there’s no way you wouldn’t want more of these gorgeous ladies of wrestling.
GLOW (2017) – Season 1