Feel like you’ve watched everything on Netflix? Have you caught up on all your favorite shows and now you’re wondering what to watch next? Do you need something totally original and fresh and not at all what you thought you needed from a television series? You need glitter. You need punches. You need girl power. You need:
It’s my opinion that GLOW is one of the best shows on Netflix right now, and I’m not the only one. This show has been given a 95% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and we all know they don’t mess around. Here’s a breakdown of the top reasons why you should make GLOW your next show to binge watch.
1 . Amazing (And Dedicated) Cast
This show has an incredible cast headed by the massively talented Alison Brie (Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder), Betty Gilpin (Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan), Sydelle Noel (Cherry “Junkchain” Bang), Britney Young (Carmen “Machu Picchu” Wade), and Marc Maron (Sam Sylvia). There are also wonderful supporting performances from Kate Nash (Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson) , Chris Lowell (Sebastian “Bash” Howard), and Rich Sommer (Mark Eagen). These actors excel at making their characters believable, relatable, and intriguing. Their emotions and reactions feel honest and raw, to the point where sometimes you forget these people aren’t real.
Beyond selling the personalities of their characters, all thirteen actresses portraying the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (that’s what GLOW stands for) trained extremely hard and performed all of their own stunts in the ring, including Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin. None of them had prior wrestling experience, so they definitely started with baby steps, which was touched on in the actual show.
Their primary trainor, Chavo Guerrero Jr. (whose uncle trained the original GLOW cast), said in a New York Post interview, “Every stunt you see, they did it themselves….Alison’s an athlete that didn’t even know she was an athlete. I would get texts from Betty saying, ‘OMG. I love being in the ring’”(Eric Hegedus, The New York Post). With his help, and a ton of bruises, they went from rookies to this:
Talk about commitment!
2. You want ‘80s? You got it.
GLOW is set in the 1980s, the same decade the original show aired. Everyone from the director down to props did an excellent job of creating a time portal, with no details spared. Everything from hair to telephones, from makeup to underwear, from dialogue to sets is fully, unapologetically ‘80s.
3. Totally Bitchin’ Soundtrack
In the pilot episode alone you’ve got hits from Patty Smyth, Journey, and Patti Labelle. And from there on out, the hits just keep on rolling, like “Hold Me Now” by The Thompson Twins and “Head Over Heals” by Tears for Fears. This show is a must-watch for anyone who adores ‘80s music like I do.
4. Girl Power
This show is all about women empowering themselves through conventional and unconventional means, from asserting themselves in their relationships to performing out in the ring. Some of the characters are married, some have kids, some are young and struggling with money. All of them are women striving to make their big break in the acting industry, which is one of the hardest dreams to chase after. All of them are women who are interested in breaking the mold, who want to be seen as equals in a patriarchal American society that tells them what is and isn’t appropriate for them to be doing with their bodies and their careers. It also explores the interpersonal relationships between women, dealing with betrayal from friends, jealousy, reproductive rights, unhealthy relationships, and racial inequality. This show really upholds the idea that there’s no one right way to be a woman, except to stand up for yourself and your fellow sisters–even when it’s difficult.
5. Great Writing
I won’t go too far into it (avoiding spoilers for your soon-to-be watchers), but take it from me that the writing in this show is stronger than a chokehold. The dialogue is witty, well timed, and emotional in all the right places. Comedy is never forced, and the plot line (and all it’s sub-plots) are well thought out and flow wonderfully. This show may have a lot of glitz and glam, but it has genuine substance, too.
6. Extremely Relatable to Most Generations, Especially Women
As I said before, this show tackles real issues that are extremely relatable to young women, and especially relatable to women who are struggling to find their big break into the acting industry. Friendships, romance, making bad choices, wanting to be taken seriously in your industry–all of these topics are tackled and then some in honest, realistic ways.
7. Taking An Honest Look at Stereotypes
If you’ve ever seen the original GLOW, or any professional wrestling shows from the industry’s earlier days, you know that a significant amount of the characters are over-the-top, hammed up stereotypes of different cultures and societal tropes. Some of these were fairly innocent, like your all-American cowgirl types or your heavy-metal wrestlers. Some, however, were intentionally offensive and racist. They were used to be the “ultimate bad guys”, to incite the crowd to really want them to be the “losers” of the battle. Some moments in the show were based on real instances in the GLOW series, such as when in 1994 a black wrestler named Virgil was pitted against a wrestler portraying a KKK member (Sara Bolbotz,The Huffington Post). While this stereotyping is wrong and uncomfortable to watch, the show does an excellent job of shining a light on how problematic it was and how the wrestlers often struggled to reconcile their gimmick characters with their real selves and own moral beliefs.
8. Believable Relationships
Sometimes when I’m watching a movie or show, I witness moments between characters and say to myself “That’s so unrealistic. That is not how that person would have reacted in real life.” I honestly can’t remember thinking that about GLOW at any point in time. There are incredibly complex, developed relationships in this show that play out so wonderfully realistically that I found myself caring for these characters straight off the bat. Situations like being forced to work with someone who has completely betrayed your trust, having no one to turn to in a time of crisis, and even dealing with messy romantic relationships all arise and are all executed with flawless authenticity.
9. Whether You Knew it Or Not, Wrestling Is Cool
I will be the first to admit it: since I was a child, I have always poo-pooed professional wrestling. I didn’t get the hype at all, I didn’t get any enjoyment out of the violence or hammed-up acting, and once I found out it was “fake”, I thought it was even more stupid. After watching this show and doing some research about professional wrestling, I’ve come to gain a genuine sense of respect and admiration for these athletes. Yes, I said athletes. Just because they’re not actually punching each other or hurting each other does not mean that they are not pushing their bodies to intense limits. Professional wrestling is, in its purest form, incredibly intense acrobatics and stage choreography, along with soap opera-esque storylines. These women and men bust their butts (literally) getting in shape for this profession and have to time their stunts exactly right, or they will seriously injure themselves.
Professional wrestlers frequently sustain extremely serious injuries either from overuse or from a stunt gone wrong. Famously, original GLOW wrestler Susie Spirit broke her elbow on live television, tearing her ligament off and had it fall out onto the matt (she had to pick it up herself and take it to the hospital with her 😬). All it came down to was misplaced footing and a fraction of a second off in timing. Many of the other wrestlers from the original show also sustained serious injuries, or are now dealing with the long-term effects of all of their years of intense wrestling.
Alison Brie and the rest of the cast pushed themselves to these same limits to learn the realities of professional wrestling. From the same New York Post article mentioned before, Betty Gilpin said “I got out of bed after the first day we shot a wrestling scene, and I felt like a 106-year-old woman who’d fallen down the stairs….I felt like I was using my fullest capacity from my scalp to my toes, like every part of me was involved and needed….It was amazing” (Eric Hegedus, The New York Post). She also noted that it was “…the most physically demanding show of her career”. So all you nay sayers of professional wrestling, give it another chance. There’s way more to it than you may have thought.
10. It’s Real
A significant amount of GLOW is taken from the lives of the real life wrestlers from the original series. Many of the characters are based on some of the real actresses, like Machu Picchu who is based on wrestling legend Emily “Mount Fiji” Dole. Sam Sylvia is based on real life GLOW director Matt Cimber, who was known amongst the women for being brilliant but also an asshole. Even specific plot points, like funding struggles and trying to find a location that would house the show are all based on the real challenges the original production team and cast faced in the ‘80s. The 2011 documentary GLOW: The Story of The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling contains interviews with many of the original wrestlers and other personnel involved in the making of the show that you can watch on Netflix. The documentary was actually the inspiration for the creation of the Netflix original series, so it’s fascinating to watch for context either before or after the show.
Well, there you have it. Those are the best reasons to make GLOW your next binge-worthy show.
tl;dr GLOW has an amazing cast, writing, ‘80s everything, and is based on real struggles and women.