Critic's Corner: "GLOW" Shines Through And Through


"After reflecting on the Netflix show about GLOW, I for one was expecting to hate it due to personal feelings and having BEEN there as a GLOW girl. I actually watched all 10 episodes and for the most part enjoyed it. A lot of it hit on the money. The way we pulled together and made a show that 30 + years ago that is still making an impact today. We worked hard yes we all had highs and lows. We all had our demons and struggles. But to set the things that bothered me the most straight. No drugs were used or tolerated by our director; as far I as i knew he never drank and I know he did not smoke. We had rules and curfews. We had to train hard and Matt was brutal and cutting and could be cruel in giving us direction and critiques but he wanted the safest best performance out of us and he got it. All in all a good show, and well acted and written. And hopefully the takeaway will be we love our fans and they are what make GLOW GREAT. And the ladies that I consider family and sisters are the best group of strong intelligent wonderful empowered women that made a lasting impression on history and for that I am grateful to be a part of it. Now that being said, I invite all fans and ladies to the AfterGLOW Fan Party Cruises. Listen to the fans' stories of what we mean and how we have impacted lives. Listen to the true stories from those who were there and lived it. Become a positive part of a wonderful life changing experience. Hugs and ankle bites..." - Sandy 'Gremlina' Manley (former GLOW girl)

Many of you by now will have heard of the new Netflix series GLOW based on the very real and insane Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling promotion from back in the 1980s.

Despite a small budget and a seemingly small market for women's wrestling (of which Dick the Bruiser infamously said to be no more than a "sideshow" or "novelty act"), the show was a minor success spanning four seasons of some of the most incredibly creative or ridiculous (depending on how you look at it) wrestling you will ever see.

It came as a surprise to me that Netflix would produce a show that would appeal to such a niche market at first glance but if you think about it for a moment, it actually has some pretty on-point timing.

In the world of pro wrestling, we have just had the "women's revolution," which, while it stumbled at first with repetitive multi-person tag team matches and no real direction, it has done a lot of good as well as females are getting to be the focal points of RAW and Smackdown with Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks even having main-evented a pay per view along with the first-ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder match that took place earlier this month. Women are becoming more than simple eye candy and are treated at almost the same level as the male athletes on both brands.

That's not even limited to wrestling though. We are currently living in a turbulent political time and gender politics have been a major discussion point several times over. So why not have a show like this that highlights women, is made (mostly) by women and celebrates the very individuality of women and their ability to bond together as a unit to fight for one common goal.


With all of that aside, one of the more important questions you have to ask yourself is this - is the show any good? Is it an accurate representation? Is it entertaining? Funny? Worth my time?

I can unequivocally say that it is absolutely worth your time. Alison Brie plays Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress who time after time auditions for roles like "secretary," "assistant" and other typical stereotypical female roles. When she receives a casting call for "unorthodox actresses," she heads to a local gym and finds out that she is auditioning for a ladies' wrestling promotion which will be known as GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). The company is directed by sleazeball and vaguely sexist director Sam Sylvia (played brilliantly by comedian Marc Maron). The series progresses as Ruth and several other wild female personalities are thrust into the middle of this whole wrestling promotion without any prior training or even knowledge of the sport.

Like any other series, there are several plot lines throughout the show that focus on the girls and their personal issues as well but it always comes back around to wrestling, which is why the show seems to be resonating so strongly with wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. The main crux of the show from the beginning is that Ruth had previously slept with her best friend's husband. Immediately, the show throws a curve ball at the audience and challenges them to like and sympathize with a main character who is definitely more than flawed and has essentially destroyed a family unit (not putting all the blame on her, of course). As the show progresses, we see that perhaps this man wasn't the most supportive husband to begin with and the fact that Ruth's former friend and soap opera actress also becomes a wrestler and eventually toys at the idea of 'feuding' with Ruth really starts to unravel the 'carny' nature of wrestling that some may be unfamiliar with prior to watching this show.

It would be far too long-winded to list everything that happens in all ten episodes but in a nutshell, this show covers many different topics like tenuous familial relationships, stereotypes and racism, sexism at large in things not just limited to wrestling and many others. The show is at times hilarious and then at others, extremely tense and dramatic but it never feels like it drastically changes its tone either. The show tackles some heavy subjects in a heavy way but then two minutes later, it can have you laughing again which is not an easy accomplishment for any production.


The relationships between the characters are all very well-written and performed. Sam Sylvia could have just been written as a stereotypical sleazy wrestling promoter but Maron injects some real personality into the part and it's written as more of a fully-realized character. Sam is a guy who has had a rotten life and is scarred by the things that have happened to him but he hasn't fully lost his humanity, which we see in some beautiful scenes alongside Ruth, especially in the later episodes. The relationship between Alison Brie's Ruth and Betty Gilpin's Debbie (Ruth's former best friend) is a roller coaster ride in itself going from cordial before the incident goes down in the first episode to downright loathsome to a sort-of steady uphill climb so they can at least communicate enough in the ring. It's really quite a treat watching these relationships slowly develop over time and hopefully into future episodes.

The supporting cast all get some pretty chunky character development as well. There are way too many to list but here are some highlights: Sydelle Noel plays Cherry Bang, a woman with some skeletons in the closet but she still has a tough exterior and takes everything very seriously. We have been given allusions to her history with Sam but nothing concrete as of yet. Britney Young steals a number of scenes as a young Samoan dynasty that has a real problem with nerves and little support from her wrestling family. Kate Nash steals a number of scenes with her "Britannica" character. The same can be said about Jackie Tohn, who plays the real "party girl" of the promotion and is the one that takes wrestling the least seriously. Aside from the ladies, there is also a very funny turn by Chris Lowell as the cokehead producer.

There are some fun cameos from a few wrestlers too including Tyrus, Carlito, Joey Ryan, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Johnny Mundo & Alex Riley. I would have mentioned Awesome Kong/Karma in that list but surprisingly, she takes on a supporting role and is featured throughout the first (of many, hopefully) season. For most of the show, I had no idea that it was even her in the role and her acting is fabulous.

Believe the hype, folks. "GLOW" is a terrific show full of laughter, sorrow and good ol' fashioned wrassling. For a show all about a business that embraces stereotypes, the show is anything but business as usual. Ab-fab.


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