To Binge or Not To Binge Episode 24: “GLOW”

The “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” are all that and more in this quirky series. A year ago GLOW released its’ first season. People loved the ridiculous drama set in the 80’s about drama in the 80’s, and this past summer season two came out. However, it wasn’t exactly what I expected and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. In a media environment full of shows like “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Black Panther” “GLOW” left me dissatisfied.  Warning: spoilers ahead

 

Season 1: Beating the odds

“GLOW” season one is every actress’ worst nightmare. Here are a bunch of rag tag actresses without work willing to take any job they can get — even if it kills them in the process. The show starts with an audition for a show called “GLOW”. Yes, it’s a bit inception-y and confusing, but bear with me. So, all these actresses are at an audition and one in particular, Ruth, really wants the job. Then they find out the audition is more of a wrestling boot camp where they will have to learn wrestling moves, develope entertaining and meaningful characters and get in really good shape really fast. Oh, and Ruth’s best friend Debbie is also on the show. In fact, they are wrestling partners, which only gets more awkward when Debbie finds out Ruth slept with her husband and decides to get a divorce. The rest is too good to tell, but I will say — it’s anything but predictable.

 

To Binge or Not to Binge? Meh …

 

Honestly, season one is binge all the way. Season two starts out strong, but kind of dies. Everyone hates Ruth, except the viewers (us), and the animosity gives the show it’s passion. Plus, who hasn’t been in a situation where you were constantly walking on eggshells … and crushing them? Season two losses the tension. Suddenly the animosity is sexual and weird and not fun anymore. The director failed to commit to their choices. They introduce a love interest, but back off, they introduce sexual tension between Ruth and Sam, “GLOW’s” fictional director who is threatened by Ruth, but then they end up just friends. It’s not bad exactly, but it’s not great either.

 

Interestingly, the show is very aware of both the 80’s political environment and today’s political environment. There is even an almost rape scene, but — unlike everyone else — “GLOW” doesn’t handle it “correctly.” The woman condemns the victim and the sleazy jerk justifies her. So, I guess they show both sides. Their is also teen sex, marriage, immigration, custody, how to handle divorce and the sexualization of femininity — also known as the devil’s work. There are all these little moments where they bring up sensitive topics like immigration and then don’t quite deal with them. Maybe that’s their comment.

 

Worst Episode: “The Good Twin”

There were a lot of good episodes, but this one sticks out as so bad and boring. Basically, Ruth gets hurt and the show gets moved to the 2 a.m. slot so they decide to say “screw it.” All the actresses come up with separate and individual storylines totally non-wrestling based, and the show diverges for a good 30 minutes. These were meaningless, stupid additions which filled space and did not move the plot or entertain me. It was not only bad, but boring.

 

“GLOW”ING TWINS?:

There isn’t really anything like “GLOW” on Netflix, at least as far as female wrestling goes. The style of the show is very similar to “Stranger Things” as it is the same period. Season one is also twisty in the same way. Of course, you could always watch the documentary about the actual “GLOW” ladies. That’s right, this is real.

 

“GLOW,” the original, was first produced in 1986 and then cancelled at the height of its’ popularity in 1990. The characters are basically the same, but they change the names and some of the appearances. The backstories of the girls actual lives are completely different in the fictional “GLOW.” They also left out more than a few gruesome injuries and toned down how hard their lives were as performing wrestlers. They had a curfew and were fined if they didn’t meet it sure, but they were also divided into good and bad girls and not allowed to talk to each other. Plus, the director was actually much harder on them than Sam is in the fictional version. He frequently insulted, demeaned and embarrassed individual girls to incite them to work harder.

 

Some of the undertones in the new “GLOW” come from the 80’s period and their struggle and some come from present day. That is why they don’t always work, in my opinion, the director was trying to blend two different decades nearly forty years apart. However, “GLOW,” the original, was a feminizing movement of girl power where women totally outshone men at their own game. So that’s pretty awesome.

 

Trigger Warnings: “GLOW” makes no apologies and doesn’t really care about your sensibilities. These ladies are wrestlers, not princesses. They swear, make crude jokes, hyper sexualize everything, drink and sleep around. It’s super funny and awesome for traditional ideas of femininity, but not for delicate easily offended flowers.

 

Then answer these:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“GLOW”

Available to stream on Netflix

20 episodes, Approximately 20 hours

 

m.slack@dailyutahchronicle.com

@slack_madge

 

 

Sidebar: Unofficial status

Women’s wrestling is not officially a varsity sport although they are in the Olympics. Organizations such as Wrestle Like a Girl Inc. are trying to change that. Last year eleven states petitioned for women’s wrestling to be considered an Emerging Sport, the first step towards varsity status.  

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