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The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or G.L.O.W—a real life syndicated show in the 1980s that featured all-female wrestlers—is the inspiration for our latest binge-worthy summer Netflix series. And while wrestling is at the show’s nucleus, the most interesting and entertaining aspect of the series is its feminist point-of-view and its focus on a diverse group of female characters that we don’t often get to see on TV.
This fictionalized version of “GLOW” begins with Ruth (Alison Brie), an out-of-work (and very actress-y) actress reading the man’s part at an audition instead of the one-liner secretary role she’s been brought in for. When the frustrated casting director discovers Ruth did this on purpose, she sends Ruth to an open casting call for GLOW. The bleachers are filled with a ragtag group of women, each subverting a stereotype in her own way.
The 10-episode series co-created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch—and executive produced by “Orange Is the New Black’s” Jenji Kohan—is part of a badass emerging trend towards more progressive TV shows that (finally!) feature the untold stories of complex, imperfect, and relatable women.
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The big hair, fantastic 80s makeup, and high-cut leotards are all there, and boy are they fantastic. We can already picture Halloween costumes months from now. It. Will. Be. Glorious.
But underneath the hairspray and the glitter are stories and characters that will keep you saying yes when Netflix asks “Are you still watching?”
Each woman we meet on the show can be added to a list of people we don’t usually see portrayed on TV, and each episode takes you deeper into the lives of these layered female characters.
“GLOW” certainly takes some excellent cues from “Orange Is the New Black”: the preconceived notions you might bring to the show about who a character is or what her backstory means might be is just that—a notion. In other words, it’s best to check your stereotypes at the door.
These characters are complex, funny, caring, and sad all at the same time. In other words, they are human. And while it is set against the backdrop of “fake” wrestling, “GLOW” reveals more about the real female experience than almost any gritty network drama we’ve ever seen.
Watching this show reminds us why it’s so important that we all keep pushing Hollywood to hire more diverse storytellers—namely women, people of color, and LGBTQ representatives. Keep showing us stories we haven’t seen before with three-dimensional characters and you better believe we’ll be inside (for part of the Fourth of July holiday) binging them.
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