GLOW, the latest Netflix darling, debuted this weekend to much fanfare and anticipation for that tiny niche of vocal super-feminist wrestling fans on Twitter. As part of that group, I was more excited for this show than Shane McMahon when a new pair of Jordans is announced. Imagine my disappointment when I got Orange is the New Black, but with wrestling.
For those unaware, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was an all-women’s promotion in the 80s that featured over-the-top characters, skits and Jackie Stallone. GLOW is a fictional retelling of the promotion’s creation.
One of our main characters is Piper—I mean, Ruth (Alison Brie)—a condescending “real” actress who hasn’t been able to make it in Hollywood. In the first episode, a casting director flat-out tells her that she’s brought in to auditions to show directors that they don’t want what they think they do, which is how she winds up at the GLOW casting call. Through a series of predictable events, she and her former best friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin) bring the house down in the main event of the promotion’s pilot episode.
The other “main character” is Marc Maron’s Sam Sylvia, the show’s director. He makes cheesy grindhouse flicks and does cocaine. He’s doing this project so that he can get his passion project made (a time-travel story where a teenager tries not to bang his mother—and no, it’s not Back to the Future).
I didn’t care about Ruth, Debbie and Sam. The true standouts were Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel), a mostly out-of-work stuntwoman who had recently had a miscarriage; Carmen (Britney Young), who came from a family of wrestlers (her brothers are played by Tyrus/Brodus Clay and Carlito) that wanted her to be dainty and stay away from the business; and Sebastian “Bash” Howard (Chris Lowell), the show’s overenthusiastic producer and lifetime wrestling fan.
Half the fun of the show was playing “Spot the Wrestler.” Awesome Kong/Kharma had a recurring role as Tammé, a woman with no in-ring experience who wrestled as the Welfare Queen while her son attends Stanford. The first episode featured John Morrison as a trainer who was replaced by Cherry, echoing the real G.L.O.W. which started out as having Mondo Guerrero as trainer (Chavo Jr. was the trainer for this show) before bringing in Princess Jasmine. Joey Ryan, Laura James and Alex Riley also make appearances, along with footage playing from various matches during the time period.
The soundtrack is banging and features everything from Queen and David Bowie to Rose Royce and Cyndi Lauper. The acting is fine and the show captures the spirit of the 80s, down to cringeworthy gimmicks that wouldn’t (well, shouldn’t) fly today. Overall, it’s a perfectly serviceable show. If you like OITNB and other shows with annoying protagonists that have interesting ensemble casts, you’ll like GLOW. 3.5/5 Bibles. – Destiny Edwards