Minor spoilers ahead for Netflix’s GLOW.
Netflix’s GLOW, based on the 1980’s professional wrestling promotion The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, is a glitzy and earnestly campy new comedy-drama that had me at the emphatic declaration of lead character Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie): “I’m interested in real parts.”
There are way too many talented women in Hollywood playing canned-response secretaries and comatose housewives in soap operas, the out-of-work actress says. Where are all the characters who “won’t be bullied into submission”?
Enter the in-the-works GLOW, brainchild of former b-movie director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), and the answer to Ruth’s dispirited prayers. It turns out GLOW is primarily casting “unconventional” women in challenging roles — this being shorthand for ethnically, racially, and physically diverse, an unparalleled feat for the mainstream entertainment industry at the time.
When Ruth shows up to audition, she’s initially baffled at the premise of women’s wrestling, but determinedly jumps headfirst into its world, stunts, spandex, stereotypes, and all.
While GLOW seems to initially set Ruth up to be the typical underdog we can’t help but root for, it very quickly turns the notion of “hero” on its head. Bye bye, “typical.” By the end of the first episode, we find out that Ruth’s actually capable of some pretty loathsome betrayals.