Professional Wrestling is awesome. When I was young my mother brought home the VHS copy of Wrestlemania 13 and from there I was hooked. As I’ve gotten older I’ve lost interest several times just to come back and fall in love with it all over again. Wrestling is simply a very physical version of live performance and should be respected as such. What they put their bodies through is no walk in the park no matter how “fake” an ignorant person may claim it to be. Outside of the physicality is the story telling in wrestling, which resembles soap opera levels of writing and execution. It’s so exaggerated and cheesy that you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity that occurs on screen. What’s interesting is there has never been a series that has explored these aspects of the wrestling world. Well not until now.
Glow is a story set in 1985 which follows a group of misfit women who help try to start an all women’s wrestling company. What many people may not know is that Glow was an actual company. While these are fictional characters made specifically for the show, it does explore the behind the scenes aspect of what they had to do to get this off the ground. They explore all of the character work and training that is necessary before you’re able to actuallt attempt to wrestle in front of a crowd. This time period is also pretty special for professional wrestling as well. With the sport booming due to big names like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, it would make sense for other people to try to make their own niche in the business.
In Glow, we follow Ruth, a struggling actress looking for better roles. After being called for an audition that she knew nothing about, she gets hurled into the world of professional wrestling. The story here stands out because it is much more than just a show about wrestling. While the tone is often times silly and embraces the over exaggerated nature of pro wrestling, there are some deep and personal character arcs that lead to compelling character moments. At its core Glow is a story about a group of misfit women who find friends under the most unlikely of circumstances. They all have their quirks and they don’t have much in common at all, but despite that there are true moments of comradery. They also feel a sense of empowerment through wrestling. At this time there weren’t many great roles for women in movies and TV, so doing something that was perceived to be exclusive to men helps them feel empowered.
I really have to commend the characterization in Glow. This is the easily its best quality and it’s because the writers are not afraid to go into the grey area. What I mean is that a good or bad person isn’t often clearly defined. This is shown clearly in Ruth and especially in the director that she works for, Sam Sylvia. Let’s just say that while Ruth comes across as nice person, there is a point where she does something extremely questionable. It’s a point that carries a lot of her character’s emotion for the majority of the season, and makes for some interesting interactions.
The acting is yet another high point here. While all of the actors in this film fully commit and give good performances, I need to take a second to mention how good Alison Brie is. She really puts herself out there and goes for it. There is a scene where she is trying to come up with a wrestling persona, so she starts to talk and act a certain way that is quite embarrassing. I mean I was embarrassed for her while I was watching it. I have to give her a lot of credit for being able to really go out there and give her all to those scenes. If you’ve seen her on Community it might not come as a surprise that she’s willing to be super silly, but this is some next level stuff. She also nails the more emotionally grounded parts of her character too. I also want to give credit to all of the actresses because they took the time to learn some wrestling for the show. Everything you see in the ring is them actually performing the moves. As a fan I really appreciate that commitment.
There are also cameos from current day wrestlers like Carlito, Tyrus, Alex Riley, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Joey Ryan, and Johnny Mundo. Once I found out that the show existed I was sure there would be a number of wrestler cameos. Some are better than others for sure, but they’re all fun. My favorites are definitely Carlito and Tyrus who play Carmen’s brothers. They show up more than the other wrestlers and they’re actually quite funny together. As a side note, Carlito is the son of Carlos Colon, who is the most prominent Puerto Rican wrestler in history. That doesn’t mean much within the context of this review, but blurting out random wrestling facts is kinda my thing.
Overall, Glow is a unique comedic series that really works on all levels. The story is fresh and the characters are compelling and likable. It goes above the novelty of it being a wrestling show. This is something I feel everyone should at least give a try because we need more TV shows with this type of originality.
Glow gets a 88/100