Who says men get to have all the fun? In the world of wrestling — full of body slams, elbows, and low blows — why shouldn’t girls get a try? With G.L.O.W., the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling are throwing their hat into the ring, contending for the title of “Netflix’s next great original series.”
G.L.O.W. is loosely based off of a real-life wrestling association that was active and televised from 1986 until 1992. Fans of professional wrestling who are looking for some similarity to the original Ladies’ events should look elsewhere, as the series does not exactly follow the real-life story of how G.L.O.W. came to be. That said, the series has the ability to appeal to fans of comedy, drama, and wrestling with a first season that is sure to turn some heads.
G.L.O.W. shares some of the same producers as Netflix’s keystone series, Orange Is The New Black, which immediately sets some high expectations – and it’s safe to say G.L.O.W.‘s production is up to par.
The series’ main Lady is Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), a down-on-her-luck L.A. actress who’s just trying to land a role on the big screen. At first, Wilder comes across as a very generic, demure character — until she gets herself into some trouble, and the series really takes off. Brie plays her character well — the acting itself is great — her character just remains a bit too bland until about halfway through this first season, incidentally around the time she starts to take on her wrestling persona. Perhaps part of the reason the lead is so slow to develop is because, while Ruth Wilder may be the center of attention from one episode to the next, each supporting character gets their fair share of the story as well.
This supporting cast is where G.L.O.W. excels. Each sideline character takes on a life of their own, and — just like wrestlers — their personalities are built to clash, from Ladies who are only there to further their acting careers to those like Carmen Wade (Britney Young), who are truly passionate about the business. And remember, this is 80s wrestling we’re talking about here, so the personality traits are as stereotypical as possible, keeping the show true to its era but without becoming too much about the gimmicks. The performances of Gayla Rankin as Sheila The She-Wolf, and Sydelle Noel as the confident Cherry Bang stand out among a truly stellar cast — and in the last episode of the season, they give a strong set-up for a potential season two focused more on Arthie Premkumar (Sunita Mani).
One thing that the writers, directors, and producers of this show deserve credit for is not taking the easy way out by taking it too over-the-top. The creators of G.L.O.W. could have force-fed us every bit of character development, much like actual wrestling does, but instead, the show develops at a fairly natural pace and creates very organic and compelling characters. And much like Orange Is The New Black, this show doesn’t constantly flaunt the fact that it has a dominantly female cast with its script. The only time gender is brought up is when it is important to advancing the story, and the fact that the series only points it out when necessary makes for a much more natural connection with the characters. The viewer doesn’t feel like they are being told why they should care – they just do.
As for the men of G.L.O.W., Marc Maron plays… well, Marc Maron (though he’s actually playing Sam Silvia, the show’s director). Not to say Maron doesn’t do a good job in the show — he is phenomenal. He delivers his sarcastic lines like a true coked-up jerk would do, and his story becomes vastly more interesting as the season comes to an end. It is safe to say that they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with Maron — his performance is great, but there are times when the viewer may wonder how much of what he is doing is acting and how much is just him. Fans of his stand-up will be familiar with what parts come just a little too naturally.
Finally, to all wrestling fans: please make sure to approach this with an open mind. You’ll enjoy guest appearances by vintage wrestlers like John Morrison (aka Johnny Mundo), Tyrus, Carlos Colon Jr. (aka Carlito), and Joey Ryan, among others, and one of show’s co-leads is Tammé Dawson (formerly known as Kharma in WWE, and as Awesome Kong elsewhere). Her spot in the cast is well-deserved, not just due to her acting skills, but also by the impact she had on women’s wrestling in the late 2000s; the level of comfort and ease she brings to the role of Welfare Queen is a sign of just how well she knows the business.
The actual competition sequences are nothing special, and they don’t aim to be. This is a show about wrestling, not a wrestling show. When watching the action, a lot of people may be compelled to laugh at how sloppy it seems. That’s the point, though — the producers of the show know that a majority of people aren’t coming to see high impact action. They want comedy, drama, and story. If anything, producers do a good job of having onscreen fans cheer and boo accordingly during the battle scenes; it helps the viewer suspend their disbelief and stay invested in the story (something that modern day pro wrestling wishes people would do more often).
G.L.O.W. takes some time to get into — this will probably not be anyone’s favorite series in the first few episodes. As the show progresses, though, characters really take shape, and the drama starts to pick up, and this show gets good. If you stick with it through the first four episodes, by the end of this first season you’ll be begging for a second.