Sexism, spandex and sisterhood — here’s why you should be watching wrestling comedy drama GLOW.
Los Angeles, 1985. A down-on-her-luck actress answers an ad for a new women’s wrestling programming, and we are introduced to the world of the “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling”. With the second season now streaming on Netflix, there’s no better time to get into GLOW.
The incredible all-women cast
Aside from Marc Maron and Chris Lowell, who play the show’s director and producer respectively, GLOW is an entirely female affair. And while a lot of the first season’s drama revolves around best-friends-turned-rivals Ruth and Debbie (Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin), the team is rounded out by an impressive ensemble cast of diverse actresses (including a surprise turn from British singer Kate Nash). As the show progresses, viewers are treated to greater insight into the inner lives of these characters, from she-wolf Sheila to stuntwoman Cherry. When it comes to compelling, fully-formed female characters, GLOW is a knockout.
The underdog story
Season 1 follows the team’s efforts to film a pilot for their show, while Season 2 sees them facing cancellation before they’ve even finished shooting their first season. There’s a reason sports movies follow such a satisfying formula, as we watch a rag-tag team of underdogs come together to overcome the odds. GLOW joins Bring It On and Pitch Perfect in the small but deeply enjoyable canon of female-centric stories which play with these familiar tropes and focus just as much on the interpersonal relationships of the team as they do on who ends up with the trophy.
The period setting
Plenty has been said about the nostalgic appeal of Stranger Things and Ready Player One, which reproduce the arcana of our childhoods to give viewers a warm, fuzzy feeling of recognition. GLOW does not do this. The 80s of the show are much closer to the 80s of real life, filmed through a constant haze of cigarette smoke. And unlike other purely nostalgia-fuelled content, GLOW doesn’t shy away from some of the horrors of this period; Season 2 features a #MeToo moment which feels incredibly timely but also realistic for that decade, and the shadows of homophobia and the AIDS epidemic linger at the edges of the story.
For all of the grit of the period setting, there’s one thing that the 80s did right, and that’s music. From “The Warrior” by Scandal (which plays over the opening credits) to classics by Sylvester, Van Halen, Whitesnake, The Bangles, Roxette and Pat Benatar, the GLOW soundtrack doubles as the ultimate Throwback Thursday playlist.
The laugh-out-loud moments
Despite its half hour running time, GLOW is no sitcom — but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Sure, there is some heavy drama in there, but the great thing about having such a weird and wonderful roster of background characters is that there is always somebody there to cut through the tension with a gag. But what ultimately makes GLOW so rewarding, especially in Season 2, is seeing these disenfranchised, staggeringly different women form a deeply dysfunctional kind of family.