Tuesday, July 4, 2017

On The Air: GLOW (2017)

In the mid-80's, David McLane, a midwestern ring announcer, came up with the idea of an all-female wrestling promotion. The final product, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, ran for 4 seasons (1986-90), filled with a mix of camp comedy skits and less than perfect wrestling. Ursula Hayden, one of the "wrestlers" on the show, now holds the rights to the franchise, and had to have given the green light to Netflix to develop a fictionalized account of how the show came together.

GLOW has a completely new cast of characters, including director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), who has to not only put the cast together, but find some actual grapplers to teach them the finer points of the mat game. Of course it's awkward, especially for Ruth (Allison Brie), an out of work actress who needs a job of any kind to make ends meet. After being cut initially by Sylvia, Ruth is bullied and robbed by a trio of kids, and winds up being rehired. Her former best friend, Debbie, a soap opera actress, gets into the act when she learns her husband's been cheating on her with Ruth.

The 10 episode series builds toward the inevitable in ring confrontation, in front of an audience, between Ruth & Debbie in their new personas. Former NWA & TNA women's champ Kia "Awesome Kong" Stevens lends some credibility to the cast. Tough Enough alumnus John Hennegan, aka current Lucha Underground champ Johnny Mundo, guest stars in the opener, but his character is quickly written off as having been fired by Sylvia off camera.

Check out the trailer:

As with Iron Fist, GLOW walks a rickety tightrope, as there are some rough spots, and plenty of face-palm inducing moments. If you've ever wondered just how difficult it was to mount the original series, well, your questions will be answered.

Update, 9/5/17: Having just finished watching the final episode yesterday, I can safely say that the series earned its renewal for a 2nd season. The twist ending plays like a normal wrestling swerve, and that's all I can say. Would that a certain Marvel-Netflix series currently running would take a few creative lessons.

Final rating: A-.

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