Netflix has earned a reputation for giving its subscribers refreshing and entertaining content. It comes as no surprise then that the streaming service would be the first to create a show that accentuates the zaniness of professional wrestling, while showing respect to the craft. With GLOW Netflix has a series that can satisfy the die-hards, while keeping non-believers interested.
Based on the syndicated television program that aired from 1986 to 1990, GLOW is not so much a retelling of actual events, but a show heavily influenced by them. However, there are clear connections between the fictional and the real.
The actual Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television show had characters like the geriatric tag team Arlene and Phyllis, and the Polynesian monster Mountain Fiji. Netflix GLOW has mirror images in Edna and Ethel Rosenblatt, and Machu Picchu. Many other characters on the series bare a resemblance (or are hybrid versions) to the characters fans may remember from the 80s promotion.
However, the show does not grab audiences by being a love letter to GLOW. It is simply an entertaining show filled with enjoyable performances showcasing what it took to put together something that was ground-breaking for its times. The show is focused around Ruth Wilder (played by Alison Brie) and Debbie Eagen (played by Betty Gilpin), two friends who develop a serious schism after Ruth makes several poor decisions. I am trying to be vague on purpose, and keep this mostly spoiler free.
With GLOW Netflix has a series that can satisfy the die-hards, while keeping non-believers interested.
What keeps the pair in close proximity, despite their personal beef, are their roles in a planned television show based around women’s wrestling. Ruth needs the part as a struggling actress who can’t seem to catch a break. On the other hand, Debbie is a former soap star on an acting hiatus–brought on by being a new mother—who gets roped into a situation she never asked for.
The ringmaster (pun intended) of this group of amateur pro wrestlers is Sam Sylvia, a dirtbag B-movie director played expertly by Marc Maron. Ruth is awkward and pathetic, yet lovable, while Debbie is a sympathetic character who is doing her best to cope with a difficult situation. Maron’s Sam is neither lovable or someone you feel bad for. He is snarky, rude, and holds nothing back. Nevertheless, he is the hilarious straw that stirs the drink for a cast that has some solid performances, top to bottom.
One of those noteworthy performances is from Kia Stevens. That name won’t jump out to wrestling fans, however her former professional alias should: Awesome Kong. That’s right, the one-time anchor, and champion, of the Total Nonstop Action knockouts division has transitioned to Hollywood. And she has made the switch rather seamlessly, as her performance of Tamme Dawson, a.k.a “The Welfare Queen” is believable and entertaining.
The ringmaster (pun intended) of this group of amateur pro wrestlers is Sam Sylvia, a dirtbag B-movie director played expertly by Marc Maron.
Stevens is not the only familiar face from the wrestling industry in the show. There are cameos from Brodus Clay/Tyrus, Carlito/Carly Colon, the one-time Miz sidekick Alex Riley, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and John Morrison/Johnny Mundo.
The series is based in a world that has always been male dominated, in the ring and in the crowd. So some used to their wrestling being testosterone-driven may worry GLOW is just Orange is the New Black (another popular Netflix series) in a wrestling ring. And on a certain levels it is. It’s a mostly female cast with issues women can relate too. However, it’s also a show with good storytelling, and many funny moments. Something any gender can enjoy.
There is no doubt the series was made for an audience unfamiliar with pro wrestling and its nuances. Yet it still has its obvious appreciation of what made professional wrestling in the 80s, and even now, unique performance art: colorful (and sometimes stereotypical) characters, and soap opera storytelling.
To coin popular wrestling jargon, GLOW isn’t a main-eventer. Yet it is a strong mid-card performer with the tools to land a main event spot in following seasons. Making it totally worth a watch for fans, and non-fans, of professional wrestling.
Jason Burgos is the host of the “Fight Strength Podcast” which you can listen to on Soundcloud by clicking here!