GLOW is an American comedy-drama TV series created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, who serve as executive producers with Jenji Kohan and Tara Herrmann. It is the latest smash hit from the ever popular Netflix.
The premise is quite simple in that Alison Brie stars as Ruth Wilder, an out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Wilder finds an unexpected chance at stardom: enter the glitter and spandex-laden world of women’s wrestling, where she must work alongside 12 other Hollywood misfits. Marc Maron plays the role of Sam Sylvia, a washed-up director of “B” movies who tries to lead the group of women to fame.
I was instantly attracted to this series for a number of reasons. One being that one of the creators, Carly Mensch had served as a producer on another Netflix Original in Orange Is The New Black (OITNB). Further analysis showed that the creator of OITNB, Jenji Kohan, was serving as an executive producer. I was introduced to OITNB by Mrs Pom who is an avid viewer and to be honest, I was sceptical at first, however, I absolutely loved all 5 seasons of this show and binge watched all 5 over a 2 week period. In particular I enjoyed the story and character development of numerous cast members and so it was with great excitement I found that GLOW was coming from the same background. Another reason for my excitement was the premise – 1980’s wrestling. Now I was only a ‘wee nipper’ during the 80’s but I was big into my wrestling from the 1990’s and thought this would bring some nostalgia to our screens.
Each episode is roughly 30 minutes long and with only 10 episodes in Season 1, you can watch the entire series in 5 hours. I do think it is a worthwhile watch and the series definitely gets better as it progresses, however it is not quite the finished article that I was expecting. Maybe I am being too tough and I am going to try my hardest to not compare to OITNB however there were some definite areas of opportunity to improve on if there is to be a second season.
Let me start with the positives. I really enjoyed the concept of the struggles of a start-up organisation and although the plot is quite simple, and also rather predictable, it does still flow quite easily from each episode and becomes quite an easy watch. You could find yourself watching the whole season back to back without a break, as I found out one Sunday afternoon. The costumes were also great, and I don’t just mean from a wrestling point of view, I mean from that retro 1980’s feel that has grown so popular since Guardians of The Galaxy was thrust into our lives.
The main character, played by Alison Brie, is also a very likeable, down and out type personality and as much as the plotline is fairly predictable, it is refreshing to see that she doesn’t become the star of the organisation. Another strong performance is that of Marc Maron, who plays the director of the show. Maron brings a real reliability to the role and you instantly know that when he is in shot, it is going to be a very smooth scene and I really enjoyed his performance.
I also enjoyed the cameos of some of the wrestling world; notably John Morrison, Carlito, Brodus Clay and Alex Riley. However, these were few and far between and they really could have utilised them a lot more during the episodes they starred.
I am not going to spoil the series for you as I do recommend you go out and watch it but the predictability of the plot is where GLOW just doesn’t reach the heights of some of my other favourite TV shows. You are not left with any cliff-hangers when an episode ends and you can quickly pick up through the story, what will happen by the end of episode 10. I am ok with predictability but the plot itself is also just that, it’s ok.
For me, another flaw that GLOW could have done much more with is the soundtrack. Again, much to the success of Guardians of The Galaxy, retro music CAN be a massive hit if done correctly. GLOW does try to use some classic tunes to accompany the story, but they are not lasting hits that resonated with me personally and as such, left me underwhelmed at the attempt.
The main flaw for me was the lack of character development and background building of each one. I am going to use the OITNB comparison here, mainly because the concept of GLOW is similar. That is in the fact that although they have one main character, they have numerous other characters who they propel into the limelight more than just a bit part player. What OITNB does fantastically well is bring an emotional connection between the viewers and the characters. GLOW offers none of that and this is where potentially the series is let down by such a short episode length. I would have preferred a longer episode, even just a 15 minute extension, to have then developed the back stories, of particular the group of women wrestlers, to have built that emotional connection. At the end of the series, and as of writing, this is only two days after I have watched the entirety, I can honestly say I cannot remember the characters names or even their wrestling alter-egos.
Overall I thought this series was good, it isn’t great but it’s also not turn it off your TV never to be seen again quality. If you are a wrestling fan then you will love it, even if you are not a wrestling fan, you will enjoy it but don’t expect it to be the next big thing.