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GLOW is the latest Netflix exclusive series set in the 80’s about a group of actresses desperate for work teaming up with a cokehead director and a clueless producer to create an all female wrestling show called GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
This is loosely based on an actual show from the 80’s. The original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling graced America’s screens from 1986 to 1990 (it also had a short-lived revival in 2012) and like all good wrestling shows it relied heavily on stereotyped characters, both good and bad guys to run storylines from week to week. Nothing new there. Interestingly, Sylvester Stallone’s mother Jackie, had a run on the show as the manager of the good guys.
And that’s where I guess the similarities end. GLOW the Netflix series uses the show from the 80’s as the backdrop for the characters to play against but all the characters are fictional.
The series kicks off with Alison Brie’s character Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress, living from paycheck to paycheck looking for a decent role and fairly annoyed by the fact pretty much all the lead roles going in Hollywood at the time appear to be male.
Just to set the scene, there’s some minor spoilers here from the first episode but it might help you decide if you want to go commit to GLOW.
Ruth’s agent invites her to audition for GLOW and that’s where she meets director Sam Sylvia, played very, very well by Mark Maron. Ruth is quite tenacious in the pursuit of flexing her muscles as an actor. Annoyingly so. And she is cut on day one.
She refuses to give up and comes back on day two with a persona she has developed to prove she means business, but her attempt to impress Sam is cut short when her best friend shows up and confronts her for having an affair with her husband. They fight, in the ring, for real and Sam is inspired to keep her on, and also cast her now ex-bestie.
There’s a host of other characters around this lot that gradually get attention over the course of the series. The standout for me was Britney Young, who adds a lot of light to the show with every scene she’s in. She plays Carmen “Machu Pichu” Wade who comes from a family of wrestlers and her dad is less than impressed by her career path.
It was cool to see real live Wrestlers Brodus Clay and Carlito play her brothers, to pretty decent comedic effect.
I was excited by this show because I like wrestling and it was great to see something kind of different being brought to the screen. A comedy drama about female wrestling completely intrigued me.
Like I said before critics are raving about it. But this not this critic, the praise stops here.
I found it to be incredibly draining, even annoying. Not because any of the performances were bad but when you kick off a show where you’re trying to pull people in with a character that’s fucking her best friends husband, you’re pushing shit uphill. She’s double-crossed her best friend; she sponges off her folks while selfishly pursuing her art. She’s just a bit of an arsehole.
Mark Maron delivers a great performance as Sam but he’s a bit of a bastard. There’s a scene a few episodes in where they make a joke about a miscarriage that features some tomato sauce that just completely misses the mark, and while I don’t mind humour in poor taste, if you’re gonna do it, you’ve gotta make sure your delivery is spot on. And this is not.
There are some chuckles to be had but nothing really stands out.
It picks up, it improved after about episode four, you start to get more of an insight into the supporting cast but that is almost halfway through the series. And it kind of makes me wonder with these Netflix series and the fact that they are released in a massive chunk for you to binge watch, there’s not as much desperation to keep you watching until the next episode because the next episode is right there, ready to auto play.
It’s just really hard to get into when none of your leading characters have any redeeming qualities.
The wrestling factor is intriguing, although the fight choreography is a bit rubbish, the 80s backdrop is authentic and on trend but this is just window dressing for a show that is completely overrated.
I’m confused by other critics calling it a new and better Orange is the New Black, why? Because it’s got a largely female cast? It’s not a prison drama, and the first season of Glow doesn’t even hold a candle to Season One of Orange is the New Black.
I give it one point because they at least tired to do something original with the wrestling thing, and another for the performance – but that about as GLOWING as this review is going to get. Two out of five.
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