Saturday, July 1, 2017

GLOW Season 1 Netflix Series Review

GLOW (2017-)
Season 1 - 10 episodes (2017)
Watch GLOW Season 1 on Netflix
Created by: Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch
Starring: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Marc Maron, Britt Baron, Gayle Rankin, Jackie Tohn, Ellen Wong
Rating: TV-MA

Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an out-of-work, struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles, finds a chance for stardom when she enters the glitter and spandex world of women's wrestling. Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), a washed-up B-movie director manages fourteen women on the journey to wrestling stardom.

This is not a wrestling show. It's a drama where the characters work as wrestlers. The wrestling isn't going to hook you. They aren't good at it as they're still learning, but it's the characters that grab you. The characters have great arcs, and while this show features ridiculous personas, the character's stories get quite deep. This is set in the '80s, not long after the women's movement, exploring what's changed for women as these women enter a distinctly male dominated arena. The last episode deftly brings everything together in a great episode.
Watch it.

Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange is the New Black) serves as the producer of this '80s period piece. I looked for an anachronism in the background and couldn't find it. From the sets and locations to the clothes, costumes, and cars, the time period is meticulously accurate.

This enters the world of wrestling, which is fake. The show doesn't make a joke of it or exploit the fact. It shows that despite the fights being fake, it still takes a lot of work and skill to make it look real. Despite the male dominated around them, these women are seeking empowerment.
Ruth is the main character, bringing a theatrical approach to the world of wrestling which isolates her from everyone else and annoys director Sam. For all of the characters, GLOW is a last ditch effort to succeed. They've all failed in some way and don't have any other options. Will this succeed with a bunch of characters that are at or near rock bottom?
This isn't about the wrestling. It's about the characters and their struggles. Ruth's personal and professional lives collide as Sam is all too happy to capitalize on her rift with former best friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin) to further the show. Reality is often shoehorned into the ring. Sam recruits Debbie has his main star, irritating Ruth who thought this gig would be her chance to shine. Ruth has never made it, and Debbie was a soap star.
While Alison Brie usually plays a sympathetic character, that isn't the case here. Nearly all of these characters are flawed in some way. This show uses their strengths and weaknesses to great effect, and with so many characters the pacing never feels slow.

In the last few episodes this takes some heavy turns, though it never abandons the comedy. Sam is a jerk, but we begin to see that he acts like that to distance himself from people. It's a facade, and Sam just might be a good guy under it all. Sam is played by Marc Maron, and if you're familiar with Maron, he didn't have to reach too far to play this character.
This does take advantage of the '80s and a movie Sam's been talking about making since the beginning of the season has an amazingly hilarious payoff towards the end.
Of course being set in the '80s and focused on wrestling, Hulk Hogan is not only mentioned, but seen in clips from the time.

The final episode is a culmination of the entire season. The characters come together and their practice and dedication pays off in the title fight as Ruth's Zoya the Destroya battles Debbie's Liberty Belle.

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