Thursday, July 13, 2017

Now on Netflix: GLOW (2017)

GLOW (2017) - Created by Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch; Starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, Rich Sommer.

By Kenny Howell

A group of actresses come together to create a female wrestling show in the 1980s in this new Netflix comedy.

This is not a biopic of the actual Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, despite having the same name, which was a popular TV program in the 1980s. I guess it would be considered an homage, as it has fictional characters tell the story of the show coming together.

Chief among those is Ruth, played by Alison Brie (Search Party) a struggling actress who is in search of a breakthrough role. We first meet her in the opening scene in an audition as she is giving an impassioned reading of the part. However, it turns out she is reading the man's part, and her part was just as a secretary who told the man giving a speech his wife was on the phone.


While confronting the casting director in the bathroom, it's recommended that she take a shot at erotica. She is then robbed by a bunch of children on her way home. If that wasn't enough, later we learn she is having an affair that could wreck a very important relationship to her.

But a new window opens up when she receives a call for an audition that is a little unorthodox. It isn't porn, but it is something very different from what she has been doing. It is a women's wrestling show which is trying to capture the popularity that the WWF had at the time. The director is Sam (Marc Maron), a sort of sexist, slightly racist horror director that is trying to get back on his feet after burning a lot of bridges. He cuts down the roster to a handful of women, including Ruth, who he sort of can't stand because of her flair for the dramatic. She tries to do too much with the wrestling role because she is an "Actress" and doesn't know any different.

The other main character of the show is Ruth's friend Debbie, a former soap star that is now traversing the life of having a newborn at home. As you can tell by the poster above, she becomes a part of the GLOW team as well, the reasons of which I will leave for the viewing. She is played by Betty Gilpin (Masters of Sex), who may be the best part of the show. She has probably the meatiest role of the show as the woman trying to raise a newborn while going through marital problems, with her acting career in her past, but that itch still there. She is outstanding, and can convey so much with her face without saying a word. She also equally handles the dramatic and comedy with great ease, and why she is not a star despite years in the business, I don't know. Brie is the star, and she is good as well, but the heavy lifting is done by Gilpin.

There is a twist late in the first season that probably is a bit unnecessary, a way to keep a character in the dramatic arch of the show. Other than that, GLOW is pretty solid all around. It's not great, but it is definitely a change of pace driven by a large female cast, and you unfortunately don't see that much these days.

The first season of GLOW is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***




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