Netflix review: GLOW (season 1)

Starring: Alison Brie (THE LITTLE HOURS [2017], HOW TO BE SINGLE [2016], GET HARD [2015], and the upcoming “The Room” biopic, THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Betty Gilpin (a bit role in GHOST TOWN [2008], and TV show NURSE JACKIE) and Marc Maron (MIKE AND DAVE [2016]).

Central writers: Kristoffer Diaz (television debut; congrats), Emma Rathbone (television debut; congrats), and Rachel Shukert (3 episodes of SUPERGIRL [2015-2016]). Composer: Craig Wedren (HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER [2017], WANDERLUST [2012], and SCHOOL OF ROCK [2003]). Cinematographer: Christian Sprenger (BRIGSBY BEAR [2017], and TV shows ATLANTA [2016] and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH [2015- ongoing]).

(SUMMARY)

Struggling actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) might just have found her calling when she falls into a revolutionary new sport, GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. It’s not what she was hoping for, but she soon learns to see the promise that it affords. But things get complicated when the man she’s been having sex with happens to be the husband of her best friend Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), a retired soap opera actress to focus on becoming a mother. And once Debbie learned of the betrayal, she shows up at Ruth’s gym where the auditions and training take place, and causes a scene. Turns out, GLOW’s overly direct and harsh director, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), enjoyed the dramatic spectacle and manages to convince Debbie to join GLOW and regain her former glory. It also doesn’t hurt to be in a wrestling setting and near the woman that broke up her marriage.

(REVIEW)

I went in to this show with an expectation that it’d be a little too similar to ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Just a bunch of women that get together and have lesbian sex. Of course, that’s not quite what that show was, but a lot of that show’s identity is the lesbian sex. Honestly, I didn’t care for that in this show. Thankfully, that’s precisely what this show doesn’t do. The first episode is really the only one that features Brie’s tits and having a sex scene. I give the episode some credit that it does serve the story and becomes the driving force that creates the tension between characters Ruth and Debbie, which is eventually what the in-universe show “GLOW” gravitates around. Beyond that, yeah, this is finally the role that I absolutely love Brie in. I can’t say I’ve been a fan of hers, mostly because I haven’t seen all the stuff she’s known for, and everything I have seen her in, she’s the hot bimbo who’s trying to be funny, but isn’t. Her role as Ruth is actually really layered. On top of brilliantly portraying a struggling actress who is clearly talented but not given a break, she also goes through a great arch of being completely dense and unsure of what is she’s a part of when she joins GLOW, and starts adapting gloriously and even humorously. She can be annoying, but well-meaning, pushes the envelope for herself. These are the roles I’d prefer to see Brie in.

But not only her, everyone is great. Gilpin is awesome as this woman who’s trying to get back on top of her acting career, which she put aside to focus on being a mother, Maron is a lot of fun as the asshole director who just wants to make something that’s both familiar to his work, porn, and yet totally revolutionary, women’s wrestling, which wasn’t a thing until the 80’s. Some other characters also stand out. You have the hilariously apathetic, yet weirdly content Sheila the She-Wolf (Gayle Rankin), who is silent like a church mouse, but a seething “fuck you” attitude that is strangely engaging. There’s also Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel), a happily married woman who is also an aspiring actress, but takes her role in GLOW very seriously. Because Cherry is so familiar with Sam, she knows his tricks, how to navigate his attitude and methods to achieving his goals. And because she wants to be taken seriously as well, she’s just as thick-skulled and strong willed like him. There’s also Carmen Wade (Britney Young), who is the daughter of a famous wrestler and sister to a pair of up and coming wrestlers, and despite her knowledge and love of wrestling, she gets serious stage-fright. And there’s Justine Biagi (Britt Baron), who is a fan of Sam’s previous work and hangs around him a lot. The characters are pretty memorable and all work well off of each other.

The story is an interesting one as well. To be completely honest, I genuinely thought that female wresting wasn’t a legit thing, but a fetish porn thing. I guess, in retrospect, that was sort of the initial pitch and what garnered interest for the public. Sex, or in this case, sex appeal, sells. Right? But I guess this really was something that accumulated some serious popularity in its day. But I’m also wondering if female wrestling is a thing presently. I only wonder because I never see it on any sports channels. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough? Or maybe it’s a coastal thing, only popular in certain areas of the States? Or maybe it really is such an underground thing that you have to know where to look for it? In any case, it’s interesting to see this at it’s starting point and I am curious to see where it goes in future seasons.

I don’t think it’s an amazing show, but it is fun. It’s got some well-executed drama and comedy done right. Some great performances from everyone as well. But for a cast that’s so big, there are plenty that are there just to make the numbers bigger and don’t get much development, so here’s hoping that changes in season two, if it gets green-lit. There’s enough surprises to keep someone engaged, and an interesting enough story to carry my interest. I like it. Give it a watch if you’re in the mood to binge.

My honest rating for Netflix’s GLOW (season 1): 4/5

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