If you’re not a wrestling fan (and who would admit it?), you probably don’t know a thing about GLOW, a new Netflix series which just dropped the entire first season. GLOW stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and was a real 1980’s campy hit amongst wrestling fans. Women! Wrestling! Whodathunk it could be a hit? Back in the Eighties, it was silly, sexist fun. Today, women’s wrestling has a much broader base and is worth millions. Women are almost 40 percent of the World Wrestling Entertainment network’s audience, and the network garnered more than $420 million in 2016.
The show, written and produced by the team that brought us Orange is the New Black, stars Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder, Betty Gilpin as Debbie Eagan, Sydell Noel as Cherry Bang, and Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia. Real wrestlers Carlos Colon Jr., George Murdoch, and John Hennigan are also featured.
Inspired by the real Gorgeous Ladies, Netflix’s GLOW showcases the story of an out-of-work actress, Ruth, whose series of bad choices and bad luck land her at a ridiculously cheesy cattle call audition for a women’s wrestling TV gig. Ruth’s best friend, Debbie, has a new baby and her own acting career has stalled. A sleazy producer/director, Sam, has grand ideas and a wealthy benefactor, Bash, who will executive produce the show. A cavalcade of characters—the women of GLOW—keep the story moving, with snappy lines and hilarious pratfalls. The buzz is just starting to build about this show – be an early adopter.
Here are ten things we love about GLOW:
- Pop culture and fashion: ALL HAIL THE LEOTARD THONG. And the leotard with an elastic belt. Giant underpants. Slouchy socks and white Reeboks. Pepsi light and Pepsi regular. BIG HAIR. Smoking! Shoulder pads and boxy suits. The packaging on maxi-pads that show up in a drug store scene. I could go on, but it is a visual feast, as well as an audio treat. Which leads me to…
- The soundtrack. Songs of the Eighties without going for the most obvious hits. The show features a nice diversity of tunes ranging from Sylvester to The Thompson Twins, Pat Benatar to Tears for Fears, Scorpions to Billy Joel. Entertainment Weekly put together a GLOW playlist here. Also, check out the early attempt at rap—laughable in retrospect, but edgy for its time. “I’m talk-singing like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.”
- The coke. Sam snorting up fat lines of cocaine is so Eighties, it almost burns the back of my throat. The decade took the coke culture of the discos and added the extravagance of Reaganomics, to make drug use ubiquitous in many ways. GLOW gives this aspect a nod in more than one scene. And snorting coke off a portrait of Ronnie and Nancy adds further irony.
- The technology, such as it is. Bash’s robot is adorkable, as is his shoebox-sized cellular phone. Pagers, electric typewriters, and boomboxes also shine a dim light on the weaksauce tech of the Eighties. Hey—Be Kind, Rewind!
- Political tropes such as Reagan’s “Welfare Queens” and the evil Soviet Union, Americans in the Olympics and as shining belle of the world ball, hijackings and other news of the era add context to the show. Debbie says, “My three favorite Americans [are] Ronald Reagan, Larry Bird, and Jesus Christ himself!” A “Just Say No” fundraiser full of big hair and big shoulder pads is a highlight.
- Same old song: A reminder that the battles we’re fighting today—equality, how to balance work and home life, finding a decent relationship, getting pregnant, fitting in—are evergreen. A lack of opportunities for women, such as Hollywood roles, or being something other than a wife; these issues were part of our lives in the Eighties and still are today.
- The world’s cutest baby: The infant who portrays Debbie’s newborn, Randy, is adorable and always has a super cute expression.
- Sam discovering that his screenplay idea has already been written—and produced—by someone else is the familiar crushing of an artist’s spirit. His tailspin is beautiful and heartbreaking and obscene and funny.
- Women discovering agency and self through physical endeavors: “I’m back in my body…it belongs to me…I feel like a goddamned superhero.” If you liked Wonder Woman, you’ll love this. #worththepriceofaNetflixsubscription
- Sisterhood in all its glory: A dozen women from varied walks of life coming together to make an artistic idea work. This plays out several different times over the course of the season—from enemies who find a way to compete together, to loners who discover how to be part of a group (or coven, if you will); from back-stabbing bitches who steal glory or lovers, to solidarity in the struggle, and the synchronizing of the cycle. It’s all here. And it’s awesome.