GLOW: A Great Summer Catch
GLOW has strong writing and story lines. Borrowing from everything from A League of Their Own to Greek Mythology, it puts in a tight run of 10 30ish-minute episodes, tells its story, and hooks you fast.
GLOW, or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, is one of the most surprising hits of 2017 from my perspective. Set in the 80’s heyday of Saturday morning wrestling and featuring an outstanding cast, I didn’t expect it to be as female empowering (at least from a white male’s limited worldview.) Indeed, when the first episode features a topless Alison Brie as the other woman getting it on with her best friend’s husband, it seemed in danger of falling into tired trope after tired trope. But to my surprise and enjoyment, that was where those potential failings ended.
Contrasted to another series I recently reviewed: Crazy Head, this seems more like a show written to tell the stories of strong women in their unique voices; rather than being written by a male, writing for how he wishes women spoke. The dialogue and the actions rang true to me even when character actions were baffling. Which makes perfect sense: if I understood and expected all these plot twists, that would probably be sign #1 that it wasn’t true to it’s subject matter.
No, what drew me to it was, in no particular order:
GLOW: The Cast
The cast is absolutely phenomenal. Alison Brie was a favorite of mine not from Community as so many know her, but her turn as Pete’s wife in Mad Men. She carried the show as an honest, resilient protagonist. She was supported with strong performances by Marc Maron and Betty Gilpin. Gilpin was a chronically underrated comedic talent on Nurse Jackie, and in GLOW shows over and over that she can do a dramatic scene, such as her discussion about her husband’s (played by Richard Sommer, another Mad Men alum) affair, which was one of the most well written and executed scenes of the season.
As someone who came into combat sports as an adult, I was very curious to see how the transformation of these women through participating in combat, albeit simulated, would be tackled in their character arcs. I was not disappointed. Each character adds something new or cements something vital about them by the end of Season 1. It’s a theme best summed up by Debbie’s quote in the final episode of the season:
“I finally felt like my body was my own. It wasn’t Randy’s, it wasn’t Marc’s. It was mine, and I love it.”
There is a quote about jiu jitsu that says: “Jiu Jitsu gives you what you need. It makes the coward brave. The proud humbled. It fills in the holes or shaves off the excess,” and I see that in every character from first episode to season finale. That is not only tremendous research but also superb writing.
For all intents and purposes I don’t remember the 80’s. I was, after all, four years old when they ended. But I loved the throwback cars, fashions, and political stories woven throughout. It was like watching a childhood picture come to life; a window into a time I only know about through VH1 specials or the commercials on old home tapings of TV movies and photographs. Did everyone really dress like that? I can’t examine it for accuracy, but I can gawk at it like a tourist.
GLOW has strong writing and story lines. Borrowing from everything from A League of Their Own to Greek Mythology, it puts in a tight run of 10 30ish-minute episodes, tells its story, and hooks you fast. The cast is superb and even in the smaller roles there isn’t one performance that isn’t adequately strong. If you haven’t taken the chance, check it out on Netflix as you’re relaxing this weekend. You won’t regret it.