Starring: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Marc Maron, Ellen Wong, Britney Young, Britt Baron, Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson, Sunita Mani, Marianna Palka, Gayle Rankin, Kai Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Kate Nash and Chris Lowell.
Plot: An inside (fictionalised) look at the creation of 80’s TV sensation GLOW aka Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling, including the highs and lows of making a new concept show and the drama behind the scenes with the group of women who get on board with the project.
Review: The original GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling ran from 1986 to 1989, it was a weekly syndicated wrestling show with seasons and they had re-runs air. It was a big hit, capitalising on the wrestling boom of the 80’s but solely focusing on the women. The show itself was a lot of fun to watch, it was entertaining and it really proved just how outstanding the women could be in a business known for its big strong men. This brings us to the Netflix original series GLOW, which is a fictionalised take on the making of this show. The 10 episodes that make up this first season focuses on the creation of the show, building up its stars, as they train in the ring and learn the dynamics that go along with wrestling. They must face personal drama as well as professional drama in getting this unlikely show off the ground.
GLOW is a show that be easily be enjoyed by wrestling fans and non-fans alike, there isn’t a need to know the business, it is part of the show but it isn’t all that is there. The focus is on a few main characters, with the introduction first going to struggling actress Ruth (Alison Brie). On her path to get auditions she is called to attend something off the wall, which turns out to be the audition for GLOW. With her insane determination and her will to get work she ends up getting hired along with a group of other unlikely women. During Ruth’s adventures, she has done wrong by her best friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin), who upon confronting Ruth at the GLOW’s gym ends up also getting a job. The thing about Debbie is that she is a successful actress having had a good run on a soap opera. This gets the attention of director Sam (Marc Maron) and seeing the animosity between Debbie and Ruth he knows that this real-life rivalry can be put on screen for the show.
While Ruth, Debbie and Sam are three of the main characters, the supporting characters are just as big a part as they are. We have Candy (Sydelle Noel), who is an actress who has worked with Sam before and is still looking for her break. She is given the role of their leader and trainer, and despite her own doubts about everything she still tries to do her job. Carmen (Britney Young) is the daughter of a famous wrestler and her brothers are a popular tag team, she is the one with the inside knowledge and passion for wrestling. She has gone behind her family’s back in order to make a name for herself in the business, because she knows they will not approve.
Then we have Tamee (Played by real life wrestler Kia Stevens, best known as Awesome Kong in TNA) is a sassy woman who wants something to do and to feel good about herself, and boy does she ever do that. Sheila the She-Wolf is the most unique of the characters, a woman her lives her life as a wolf is just looking for acceptance of who she is. Melrose (Jackie Tohn) is the party girl, the sex symbol but she is out for more than just being seen as that, this is a chance for her to do something for herself. Jenny (Ellen Wong), Arthie (Sunita Mani) and Reggie (Marianna Palka) are out to prove themselves, each having their own little arc through the season. Dawn (Rebekka Johnson) and Stacey (Kimmy Gatewood) are two very loopy girls, their motivations aren’t clear but they are entertaining. Justine (Britt Baron) is the quiet punk girl, who has a reason to be there but it isn’t revealed right away. Then we have Rhonda (Katie Nash) the English girl who has a relationship with the director. Lastly we have Bash (Chris Lowell) the rich kid who is producing the show and wants to prove that he can make something of himself.
The acting is excellent from everyone, they each bring something different to the table and mesh extremely well. There isn’t a bad performance in the bunch, they bring so much life the characters they play and whether they are going through some crazy drama or having a good time it’s hard hitting. Alison Brie is a capable actress, she has dramatic and comedic chops and they all come in handy for Ruth. She was the right choice for Ruth, and the chemistry between her and the other actors worked. Betty Gilpin does take some time to warm up to, however as Debbie goes through her own trials she gets better and better. She is an interesting actress and by the end she absolutely owned her role. Marc Maron was on fire as Sam, some of the lines he delivered were pure insanity but he did it so well it’s hard to even see the actor not the character.
Supporting actors in the show were all very memorable, perhaps most impressive was Gayle Rankin as Sheila, the quirkiest character of them all. Sheila believes herself to be a wolf, not an easy task at hand yet Gayle made it work to perfection. Kia Stevens who got fame as a professional wrestler is fantastic as Tamee. Her work in TNA as Awesome Kong and in WWE as Kharma was great stuff, and this is a step in a very new direction and she owned it. Sydelle Noel is also worth mentioning, Candy is a very hard-hitting character with a huge chip on her shoulder, she was not only memorable in the role but watching her grow as a character was great. Not to leave anyone out, but the entire cast do such a great job, they each stand out in their own way and by the end they do feel like a legitimate team.
GLOW really captures the essence of the 80’s, not only that it does understand wrestling and it is at the end of the day a really fun show. With the episodes running around 35 minutes it is an easy show to binge watch, it is extremely engaging and a ride that you want to be a part of. The soundtrack is amazing, they song choices are perfect for the scenes they are used for. Everything about the show just felt like the right choice, there is no doubting when it is set and what it is about. Wrestling is the back drop, and it really does work well, it will bring the sport to a new audience and perhaps give people a new appreciation for it. There are some fun cameos that fans will pick up on, and with a huge nod to the original show Chavo Guerrero Jr. worked with the actresses to train them, and his Uncle Mando Guerroro was the first trainer for the original TV series.
Netflix is doing a great job of creating original content, and GLOW is right up there with some of the best work they have produced. It is an easy show to recommend, there is a lot to really love about it. Whether you are into wrestling or not, this is well worth giving a shot. Enjoy the crazy ride, and join these women as they take an unexpected journey.