Set in Los Angeles in the 1980s and based on the real-life Glow wrestling members of that decade, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s first series of Glow tells the story of Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), a struggling actress who – after having failed at numerous other, more serious castings – ends up on a team of equally misfit females-turned-wrestlers, forming the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The series is a vibrant slice of 80s nostalgia, particularly in its soundtrack as well as the abundance of spandex, big hairstyles and 80s wrestling attire. The vibrant retro style is juxtaposed interestingly with a more contemporary lens also. For example, in one scene, the director of the wrestling team and soon-to-be wrestling TV show, Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), after having asked the women to promote themselves to him in a role play, responds to one noticeably more promiscuous individual, “I like the whole ‘please objectify me’ vibe. Tremendous”. This allusion is not so much to the 80s lifestyle, but to much more contemporary times, allowing for the show to fluctuate between different time codes whilst at the same time maintaining a nice sense of self-reflexive humour.
It’s not all eccentric 80s fun though. There are serious subplots for the characters – particularly Glow director Sam – which cover some darker territories, and allow for the series to gain a bit more vital substance. What appears as a quirky and flamboyant first two episodes, could perhaps soon be overpowered by the sinister subplots introduced at the beginning of the series, leaving the spectator wondering when the darkly humorous fight scenes with faked miscarriages become a serious issue. Although the action takes a few episodes to truly get going, the laughable group of female wrestlers soon become heavyweight champions in not only the portrayal of empowered women, but also ones who master the art of “who the fuck cares?”, the essence of both the show and Sam’s persona.
Despite his unloving personality, the one thing the alcoholic, cocaine-sniffing director gives the women is an opportunity to express themselves on screen in an unbridled, powerful way, in an environment typically associated with “alpha” males. Glow is a smart, self-reflexive and most of all lighthearted look into the lives of aspiring females in a world run by patriarchy and sexism. But these ladies do not complain, they wrestle. And with this comes a fun-filled series that does not linger on the age-old divide between males and females in society, but rather creates a world in which this debate is almost forgotten about, and is deadened at the hands of a group of snappy, ludicrous and highly comical female fighters.
Glow is available on Netflix from 23rd June 2017.
Watch the trailer for Glow here: