When I first heard about the upcoming release of GLOW on Netflix, I cringed. In the past two years, I’ve become invested in the evolution of the women’s division on WWE (see my post about the Women’s Revolution here). The amount of respect that those female wrestlers have garnered in the past few years made me proud. And the over-the-top depictions of women’s wrestling in the GLOW previews made me nervous that it would be a step backward.
But then I learned that the show was actually based on the real-life GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). And some of the producers were the same ones that worked on Orange is the New Black. So I figured, well, maybe they’ll do justice to the depiction of women in this show. I decided to give it a chance.
GLOW was alright,at best. I didn’t hate it. But I also didn’t feel like it was an amazing show, unlike how I usually feel about many Netflix Originals.
The show wasn’t shy about applying jargon that were commonly used in the wrestling business. It portrayed the training sessions that wrestlers had to endure, beginning with learning how to “take bumps.” Simply speaking, wrestlers need to learn how to fall properly after taking a hit. GLOW also went over the psychology of wrestling matches, such as establishing feuds between faces (good guys) and heels (bad guys).
The depiction of the women finding their characters for the ring was quite accurate. The “All-American” wrestler is usually chosen as the face, as shown with Betty Gilpin’s character Debbie. The “foreigner” is usually chosen as the heel, as shown with Alison Brie’s character Ruth. It is a formula still used in WWE today, such as the fued between John Cena and Rusev. Ruth’s in-ring character is the Russian “Zoya the Destroya.” Many real-life wrestlers also made cameos in GLOW, such as John Morrison, Carlito and Brodus Clay.
GLOW shows the struggle of women in wrestling, especially with how difficult it was for them to gain the same respect that men did. Carmen, played by Britney Young, came from a family of wrestlers. However, her father was against her wrestling. When she asked why, he answered that the women weren’t taken seriously.
But despite all the high points of GLOW, there were other tidbits that kept me from being wholly invested. I really hated Ruth. Granted, her character was a heel, so technically she was supposed to be hated. But even out of her in-ring character, Ruth got on my nerves. She was an aggravating person. I mean, surely, you’re supposed to like the main character of the show at least a little, right?
And although they did focus a bit on the other characters on GLOW, I truly wished that they spent more time developing them. I was more interested in the other characters’ lives and backgrounds than I was in Ruth’s.
The show only ran for 10 episodes, which was too short. It almost felt like the season ended abruptly. At the end, I thought, “That’s it?” It hardly seemed like anything happened in the 10 episodes that I saw.
I probably sound so petty, but it was hard for me to get into GLOW the way everyone else did. Trust me, I’ve seen the high ratings. But I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted, it was a bit boring at times. Perhaps a second, more fully developed season of GLOW will change my mind.