“In this world, there are good guys, and there are bad guys. And we…are the good guys.” Sounds like a wrestling promo, right? Well, it is not, but that’s how GLOW on Netflix starts.
It’s Alison Brie in her character of Ruth Wilder who delivers the line during an audition as she tries to land a job in a new production. Unfortunately for her, she reads the male line and was sent packing…not before she is offered a role in a porn movie by the casting director.
Ruth refuses the offer and heads home after a sweaty gym session. And then the call comes in. The same casting director tells her that there’s another audition looking for unconventional-looking women.
20 or so ladies are already lined up to audition in front of the foul-mouthed director Sam Sylvia when Ruth arrives. When Sylvia explains what GLOW is, one of the ladies asks, “So, like Hulk Hogan?” The reply was blunt. “If one of you turns out to be like Hulk Hogan, I’ve hit the f*cking jackpot.”
And so the journey of the GLOW ladies begins. I was fortunate enough to be given all 10 episodes of GLOW last week by Netflix prior to the release to write this small review. It’s just an overview and no major storylines are revealed.
Ruth Wilder, played by Alison Brie, is an out-of-work, broke actress who is banking on GLOW to launch her career again. She is disliked by the director, Sam Sylvia, who originally didn’t want her until a personal story between Wilder and her best friend Debbie changes his mind. He sees her as the villain and decides to keep her around because he envisions money in the storyline. Throughout the series, Ruth fights to gain her director’s respect and her spot in the main event as well as mend her relationship with her best friend.
Sam Sylvia is the man leading the pack as the director. He is a foul-mouthed, coked-up, sexist, asshole “booker” who verbally abuses all the ladies at every opportunity he gets. He also happens to be sleeping with one of the GLOW ladies. He is arrogant and his vision sometimes clashes with that of the producer. But when he threatens to walk out, he is persuaded to stay. Marc Maron is pretty much gold in his portrayal of the character.
Debbie, a married beautiful blond who is also a mother, is Ruth’s best friend until something happens between the two. She did not audition for GLOW but is asked to join as the face of the show by director Sylvia. She’s given the all-American gimmick and acts as a diva, refusing to work with many of the other talent, including her former best friend even though it’s the storyline that makes most sense. Eventually, that all changes… The character is played by Betty Gilpin.
Carmen is a shy individual who had to lie to her family to attend wrestling training with the rest of the GLOW ladies. Her family is wrestling royalty, with her father and brothers already in the wrestling business. Carmen, played by Britney Young, eventually stops talking to her father due to her decision and later enlists the help of her two brothers to help out train her friends. Will her father accept her decision to enter the business? You will find out by the end of the season.
While the majority of the cast have gimmicks, it’s one thing that Ruth Wilder struggles with the most throughout half of the series. She has no gimmick, and she is simply Ruth, something that obviously bothers her. Every gimmick she presents is shot down until she finally nails one down. It’s a real struggle that even wrestlers today face sometimes. You have the all-American hero, a she-wolf who lives her gimmick 24/7, a “terrorist”, a welfare queen, a nerd, a KKK tag team and other colorful gimmicks.
Throughout the series, you will see footage of Hulk Hogan, Harley Race, Ric Flair, and Gorgeous George playing on television for the ladies. Even The Iron Sheik gets a mention. Other wrestling personalities who have a role in GLOW are Johnny Mundo, Alex Riley, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Tyrus, and Brooke Hogan.
A WHOLE LOT OF 80s!
Since this is based in the 80s, there are a lot of perms, a lot of makeup and sometimes questionable wrestling attire. Music from that era also acts as the soundtrack of the whole series. Butts are in abundance and there’s even some nudity and sex scenes. If you loved the 80s, you will love this show.
THE REMAINING CAST
Joining the rest of the cast are Sydelle Noel as Cherry Bang, Britt Baron as Justine, Kia Stevens as Tammé, Jackie Tohn as Melrose, Kimmy Gatewood as Stacey, Rebekka Johnson as Dawn, Kate Nash as Rhonda, Sunita Mani as Arthie, Gayle Rankin as Sheila the She Wolf, Ellen Wong as Jenny, Chris Lowell as Sebastian “Bash” Howard, and Alex Rich as Florian.
Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black) and Tara Herrmann (Orange is the New Black) are executive producers, and the series was co-created by Liz Flahive (Homeland) and Carly Mensch (Orange is the New Black), who will serve as showrunners. Shauna Duggins serves as the stunt coordinator while Chavo Guerrero Jr is the fight coordinator.
I thoroughly enjoyed the series. Since it’s roughly only 30 minutes each, episodes flew by. Wrestling fans will certainly dig the several “smart” references as well as seeing some of their favorite stars in roles you thought you’d never see them in.
You will not see a Flair/Steamboat classic in GLOW, but considering none of the ladies, except Kia Stevens, are actually wrestlers, they do pretty good. From learning the ropes, to a simple collar-and-elbow tie-up, the GLOW ladies will take you on a short journey on what it takes to become a professional wrestler. Besides, the series has a few good different storylines which I did not mention in this review not to spoil the whole thing. Apart from all this, GLOW is a story of how a bunch of different women from different backgrounds band together when tough times come around to do everything they can in their power to save the project they all believe in. Here’s hoping for a second season!
All 10 half-hour episodes of the comedy series will become available to Netflix members worldwide on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. PT. The show is also available in Ultra HD 4K and HDR.