GLOW is making waves as Netflix bingers are hungry for something new, but is a series based on an ’80s Women’s Professional Wrestling show worth watching for fans who don’t know a bodyslam from a moonsault?
I’d say yes. If you’re just seeking a new dramedy that doesn’t tilt too heavily in one direction, this is a fairly entertaining ride. It has problems with pacing – like many series do when stretching material out over a season – but there’s enough genuine entertainment here to gloss over the rough patches.
The opening scene sets a tone of women struggling to make it in a male-dominated world. I won’t spoil anything beyond that as I quite enjoyed the beginning both times I watched it.
Allison Brie of Community takes the starring role as a lovable loser. A struggling actress resorting to portraying a professional wrestler to keep her dream of acting alive, and pay the bills. Marc Maron is the unlovable loser in charge of the operation. He’s sexist and shady, and drives much of the first few episodes narrative. I could have used less of him personally, as Maron is obviously gifted comedically, but his tone can be grating when carrying too much of the episode.
Professional Wrestling works best with clearly defined Heroes and Villains. The hero (or heroine) should evoke sympathy and be underestimated by the terrifying villain. The crowd gets behind the plucky hero and lives their triumph with them.
GLOW often suffers from a lack of focus and likable characters. Brie starts as the obvious underdog, but is soon revealed to be darker than originally thought, making it tough to root for her. I found my moral compass shifting until it landed on Cherry, the ex-Blaxploitation star struggling to find work as “movies got whiter”.
Jackie Tohn plays ‘Melrose’ the spoil party girl, coasting on her family’s money. She’s in GLOW to have fun and lacks the desparation of the other girls trying to make ends meet. She’s an easy villain to hate, but in wrestling, the villain needs to get their comeuppance. Instead, she irritates the others but is then mysteriously awarded as the plot takes a further side tour.
Will you like this?
I’ve listed my many criticisms with the show but it remains a solid watch. Like many Netflix series, it lacks the consistent quality of overly produced network shows, but I feel the quirky highs it reaches are worth the bumps along the road.