For about three decades, I’ve been something of a massive wrestling fan. I rarely miss a week. My “habit” at this point is upwards of six hours or more a week, viewing wrestling content. And I’m of the opinion that women can have wrestling matches just as good as male competitors. So when I saw that Netflix was producing a series on GLOW, I was immediately interested.

GLOW is an acronym which stands for The “Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling”. It was an actual wrestling promotion which ran in the late 1980s, and although I’m looking forward to going back and watching the old footage, I have only seen bits and pieces of it since it aired about the time I was starting my (mild) obsession with professional wrestling.

What I have seen, in its entirety, is the first season of GLOW on Netflix.

If you’re not a huge wrestling fan (or not a wrestling fan at all), that’s fine, I’ve still got a perspective here you could be interested in (or learn something from), because my wife isn’t a wrestling fan, and she watched GLOW with me. And when I say she isn’t a wrestling fan, I mean she watches 0 hours of professional wrestling a week.

The 10-episode season tells the only-partially-fictionalized story of the origins of GLOW as a wrestling promotion. It delves into the lives of each character along their journey towards the first televised “episode” of the show-within-a-show, as the female characters become wrestlers for the first time, the director character takes on the project as an outsider to the wrestling business, and about at least a half-dozen or more other storyline arcs.

The Plot

At the center of the action is Ruth (in a strong showing from Alison Brie), a broke, wannabe actress struggling to get parts who sleeps with her only friend’s husband, and then falls into an opportunity to get a steady paycheck by becoming a professional wrestler. Problem is, the director (played excellently by Marc Maron) gets enamored with the idea that Ruth’s only friend, Debbie, will bring her skills as a former soap opera actress into the role of the wrestling promotion’s top star.

It’s not as melodramatic as it sounds, and the two leading ladies actually put a lot of realistic emotion into it. Their reactions don’t seem forced, either. Just as you’d expect from a Netflix show, the writing is on point. It’s not likely to win an Emmy for its writing, but the majority of characters are well developed and have storylines. Carmen “Machu Picchu” Wade wants to break into the wrestling business like her father, but isn’t getting his approval of the choice like her brother’s did, and having to deal with a bit of stage fright. Sheila “the She Wolf” hides a secret from the world as she lives day-to-day in her wrestling gimmick.

There’s lots going on in this show.

The Wrestling

The wrestling action doesn’t hog the runtime, either. Sure, it’s mixed in here and there, and it takes up about half of the final episode, but that’s about its maximum concentration. The ladies aren’t excellent in the ring, so any WWE, New Japan, Ring Of Honor or Global Force Wrestling fans looking to get more of that “fix” are going to be disappointed. That’s not to say the action is terrible, but rather, the show is about women joining the business who are learning to wrestle. And this is set in the 1980s, so although there was some great in-ring action going on in Japan at the time, American professional wrestling in the 1980s isn’t the sort of thing that involves a considerable amount of acrobatics or high octane pacing. The moves were simpler than they are today, and the focus was on the showmanship and reactions to what was going on. It was believed, at least to some degree, to be “real”, so stomping on someone’s head could have ended a match.

The feud they built up between Ruth and Debbie felt very true to what 80s professional wrestling would have given us, and Alison Brie actually does a great job in her role as the villain. I really enjoyed watching as the two worked on developing what would be an entertaining match, exceeding just trading the basic moves. The way things culminate at the end of the final episode was great, especially with the surprise at the VERY end. Definitely had a feel of great wrestling storytelling to it.

The stereotype-based wrestlers were a great touch that continued to give the series an 80s feel. “The Welfare” Queen is something that could easily strike a chord with some conservatives even today. Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs The World) was a highlight for me as Jenny “Fortune Cookie” Chey, obviously totally devoting herself to each scene she was in. They gave us a look at what happens when stereotype-based wrestlers suddenly find themselves with too much “heat” from rabid fans with Sunita Man’s character “Beirut the Mad Bomber”, with Kate Nash’s hillarious Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson’s character getting some collateral damage in the process.

There were some decent cameos along the way, too. Big wrestling fans like myself will probably recognize John Morrison, Alex Riley, Brodus Clay (or Tyrus, depending how deep your wrestling fandom goes), Carlito and Joey Ryan. Maybe for Season 2 there will be some cameos from some higher profile female wrestlers? Perhaps AJ Lee, Celeste Bonin, Trish Stratus, Gail Kim, just to name a few options…

Other Notes

Fellas (and some ladies), I will mention that there’s a bit of nudity along the way. Probably 4 or 5 of the women go topless in one episode or another, including (surprisingly) Alison Brie. For those of you who don’t like nudity, you can rest assured that it’s not overly gratuitous, and if I recall correctly, only two of the times did it involve a love scene.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the soundtrack, because for someone who likes 80s music, this series had some great throwback songs to enjoy along the ride. “The Warrior” by Scandal, “The Look” by Roxette, “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel, “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by The Scorpions, “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones, and about a dozen others. The songs weren’t just playing, though, they were nicely selected to go along with what was going on in the story at the time.

When auto-play didn’t serve up an 11th episode, my wife and I were both sad that we have to wait for Season 2 to watch more, and I’ll be very, very surprised if a second season isn’t ordered. In fact, if it isn’t, maybe I’ll put together a car wash fund raiser!


Instantly watch from thousands of TV episodes & movies streaming from Netflix. Try Netflix for FREE!