This week’s Netflix Pick is an addictive Netflix Original with a whole lot of charm. GLOW in its debut season introduces us to the 80’s world of women’s wrestling. The all star cast really gives a lot of credibility to this show that feels as if it gets everything right.
Glow follows Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) a try-hard actress who just can’t find her moment. She is tenacious in her search for work. Her over eagerness seems to do more harm than good until she shows up to a mysterious try out. Ruth along with an amazing cast of women deal with washed up director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron).
Each character brings their own personality, past, goals, and wants into the show. This does seem like a statement out of writing for television 101 but the impressive thing is through the course of ten half hour episodes Glow actually pulls it off. Nothing feels forced. Nothing feels convenient. Nothing is added in for plot necessity. Some of the characters are, of course, tropes, but none of them feel that way.
A combination of outstanding writing and outstanding acting sell these interesting characters. Alison Brie has proven she has some range between Mad Men and Community. Marc Maron is a comedic genius. The rest of the cast you may not even recognize but the talent is strong.
Without recreating IMDB in my write up I’ll point out just a couple of my favorite leading ladies of Glow. The most bad ass chick on the show also has the best set up for Season 2 (fingers crossed). Sydelle Noel plays Cherry Bang, which is an awesome name before she even becomes a wrestler. Her performance is outstanding, especially considering somewhat limited screen time. Her resume has a fair amount of credits but no roles as strong or, likely, as memorable as Cherry. Best friend/foil to Brie’s Ruth is Betty Gilpin. Gilpin has impressive television credits in acclaimed shows such as Nurse Jackie, Masters of Sex, and American Gods.
The cast is incredibly strong, that is apparent in the pilot alone. The writing is equally as strong. Good writing can elevate an average performance and amazing actors can elevate decent writing. Glow gives us the best of both. The show has extensive writing credits when all episodes are considered but the two masterminds and creators of the show or Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch. Neither woman has done a ton of known work when singular credits are in question but with resumes that boast Orange is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, and now Glow, it’s no wonder the series is so strong.
On top of great acting and human moments this is a show about wrestling. Professional, WWE (WWF in shows era, style. Not Olympic. A lot of people who aren’t into wrestling may write it off as fake without giving it a chance. In the case of Glow, it is. It’s a series about people ‘fake” wrestling. This should be cleared up for the naysayers. While television wrestling is largely dramatic and the fights aren’t 100% real. There is a huge level of physicality and stunt work involved. The performers drill and drill and drill and learn their craft. They take hits for it and they ham it up, all to make the sale to the audience. Glow doesn’t portray professional wrestling as anything more or less than it is, and that’s fantastic. Glow also put the leading ladies through rigorous work to prep for the wrestling scenes. That much is clear.
The pacing is also exactly where it should be. The episodes are short and always leave you wanting more. As a testament to the shows pacing my plan was to watch the first three episodes to see if I could recommend it to the So Wizard audience. I watched the entire season in a single sitting without even noticing the passage of time.
A little silly at times Glow is a great comedy-drama with a stellar cast. The show holds your interest like few half hour programs can and always delivers. Looking forward to a whole lot more from Netflix.