I should start this review by saying that I am not a wrestling fan.When I watched the Pilot episode, I wasn’t convinced I would like a show about women wrestling. I decided to give it a shot because I had heard a lot of good things about the series.
The series is about 14 misfit actresses (every shape, size, colour and background) in 1980’s Los Angeles who were hired to play wrestlers for a TV show named “The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” (or G.L.O.W.). Most of them have no experience with wrestling what so ever. Their introduction into the world of wrestling helps the audience who may also be new to wrestling get into the story.
The series, I found out, is a very fictionalised account of the true story behind an 80s wrestling franchise. The creators Liz Flahive (Homeland) and Carly Mensch (Weeds, Orange is the New Black) built their own G.L.O.W. team from scratch. It has nothing to do with the women that formed G.L.O.W. in the 80s. They’ve made their own thing, and it is colourful and surprisingly fun with the funky costumes, body slams, witty banter and profanity. It has a great story arc, not an episode or character wasted.
My interest peaked in the very first the show’s very first scene, when Ruth (Alison Brie), an actress, delivers a monologue in an audition and raves about the role, commenting on how few roles like this there are for women. She is then told by the casting agent: “You’re reading the man’s part.” It is obvious that Ruth knew this and chose to make a point.
The women face sexism and racism on a daily basis coming from every direction, even their own internalised bias.
“Nobody respect lady wrestlers. It’s like the midgets, you are a sideshow.” – GLOW S1:E4
One aspect of the show that I truly appreciated seeing was that fat women were fat, not just a tad over a size 10 like they are often portrayed in the entertainment industry.
In the first episode, we see some personal drama unfold between the women. The story arc of having one woman sleep with her best and possibly only friend’s husband is a tired cliché. Having the Debbie (Betty Gilpin) point out that Ruth saying “it just happened” is an absolute lack of responsibility in the official dissolution friendship is absolute gold.
“Things just don’t happen. People make choices. They want things and they go for them.” – GLOW S1:E1 “Pilot”
The background 80s music made me dance more than once. In the second episode, the first song you hear is “The Look” by Roxette, immediately placed a smile on my face. “Pressure” from Billy Joel and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by Scorpions are also an all time favourite of mine.
In the second episode, the way the characters are presented made me think of the theatre play “Chorus Lines”. The play takes the audience through one day in the lives of 17 dancers, all vying for a spot in the “chorus line” of a Broadway musical. Each of them is asked to step up and say what makes them different and special.
It becomes clear from the second episode that one of the main subplots revolves around Ruth having difficulty finding her alter-ego for the ring and resisting becoming the ultimate bad guy. She might not like it at first, but she still fights for the show to happen. Mostly because she has nothing else.
“Look I don’t like you, strong bird. Take that in. Hold on to it. Try not giving a fuck. There’s a lot of power to that. And relax. The Devil gets all the best lines.” – GLOW S1:E2 “Slouch, Submit”
Seeing the women find their wrestling personas and team up is hilarious.
The show is a comedy, but there are many moments of drama. I cannot say that I was eagerly looking forward to each new episode, but it had enough to keep me going back for more.