Netflix dropped the ball when they canceled “GLOW,” but we consider ourselves lucky to have gotten three strange and pleasurable seasons. “GLOW” is a fictionalized take on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), a syndicated wrestling show from the 1980s featuring all-female characters. Like “Jane the Virgin,” this series relies heavily on female characters and their relationships. It is essentially a show within a show: We’re exposed to each character’s onscreen wrestling persona as well as the person behind the spandex.
Alison Brie plays protagonist Ruth Wilder, who fancies herself a serious actress but can’t book anything better than her Russian villain “Zoya the Destroya” on GLOW. Zoya’s main enemy is all-American “Liberty Belle,” played by soap star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), who used to be friends with Ruth before Ruth slept with her husband. Together they headline a show filled with incredibly odd, hilarious characters — like Sheila the She-Wolf, who acts like a wolf even off-stage.
In “GLOW,” the characters are exaggerated much like they were in the 1980s, embodying stereotypes and at the same time satirizing wrestling culture. The women are continuously exploited by television executives, casino managers (the show sets up in a casino in Season 3), and even director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). Nonetheless, while the women accept much of their treatment without question, some are able to express issues they have with their costumes, their payment, and the cultural and social stereotypes their alter-egos perpetuate. This allows for an interesting exploration of identity, such as when Jenny Chey (Ellen Wong) explains why her “Fortune Cookie” persona is offensive, and the group has an important discussion about genocide.