The warm glow of Glow

I knew I’d love the Netflix series Glow right from the off.

As soon as I saw the trailer at the beginning of last Summer I couldn’t wait for it’s arrival. When this, seemingly, small show about women wrestlers in the 80’s did arrive I was not disappointed. Over the past year and a half I have watched {and rewatched!} with utter joy how the writers, directors and actors have produced a piece of work that is both nostalgic & current, funny as well as bittersweet, informative yet subtle.

With a majority female cast the range of different characters on screen is so refreshing. Who knew you could have so many women on screen ~ each with a complicated and interesting backstory. I mean WHO KNEW?!

Glow’s main protagonist is Ruth Wilder, played by Community’s Alison Brie ~ a struggling actor who’s looking for ‘real parts for real women’ as well as her rent money. Having just slept with the husband of her best friend, Debbie Eagan {Betty Gilpin} she hits rock bottom and through no choice other than necessity takes on a TV job about women’s wrestling. Directed by washed up film director Sam Silvia {Marc Maron} Ruth joins twelve other misfits and heads into a world of leotards, glitter and body slams.

Based on the real life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling TV show and the subsequent documentary that came out of it, writers Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive spent a good year researching and putting together a pilot for Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan. What developed from that first episode is now two series worth of complex female friendships, relevant feminist issues and relatable misogynistic work dilemmas.

There is something for everyone in Glow. Trust me when I say, regardless of your gender, sexuality, ethnicity, you will find a subject matter you can relate to ~ misogyny, stereotyping, pitching women against each other, abortion, affairs, the casting couch, female strength ~ physically and mentally ~ jealousy, male sexual predatory behaviour.

What a fun list of topics! Well that’s Glow’s charm. It does deal with these topics in a fun, as well as subtle, way that you’re not even aware you’re being educated. And educated is what we need to be because these issues are still an everyday occurrence for women in 2018. They’re depressing as shit and sometimes it feels like we are never going to move away from them.

It was reported last week that Louis CK performed a surprise gig at a comedy club and received a standing ovation before he’d even opened his mouth. A man who used his power and privilege to sexually abuse women took a mere eight months to think about his actions and then was applauded on his return. Fuck off! I’ve not got the energy to explain that Fuck Off. Roxanne Gay, for The New York Times, does it far more eloquently.

Glow deals with something similar. Ruth turns up to a meeting with a TV executive ready to discuss the show and hopefully where her abilities as an actor might take her. Once she arrives she’s told the meeting will now take place in the male executive’s hotel room rather than the restaurant that was first suggested. We know what’s going to happen. We know what Harvey Weinstein did. Glow beautifully shows the fall out of this meeting from three perspectives ~ Ruth’s, Betty’s and Sam’s. Each a different view point, each a real reaction and each a sad reality.

Regardless of the fact that the show is set in the 80’s Mensch & Flahive have managed to make Glow relevant for our increasingly feminist thinking minds. It’s almost a shock when each episode finishes because what the show manages to subtly do is subvert the way our patriarchy led brains think. It provides us with story lines that don’t stray too far from what we know happened back in 1985 but shows what could have happened, what did happen in some cases and what should have happened. We absolutely believe we know the outcome of certain relationships and situations in Glow but just at the last minute we’re taken down a different path. Whether we like it or not the majority of us have unconscious bias. For years we have been pigeonholing women of colour, muslim woman, socially awkward women, beautiful, successful women, homosexual relationships. We believe we know what these characters journey’s are going to be because we’ve seen them portrayed in one, linear way for such a long time.

With Glow we are treated to the reality that every woman ~ regardless of their status, the colour of their skin or their size and sexuality ~ is different and unique. We are shown the complexities and intenseness of female friendships and how important they are. We are shown that women are powerful, vulnerable, intelligent and beautiful. We are shown real parts for real women and, like Orange is the New Black and Big Little Lies before it, it’s emotional and empowering to see this amazing representation of women. More shows like this please!



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