Reviewed by Chantelle Dussette
It’s the 1980s. Spandex is in. Hair is bouncy and Steve Guttenberg is a household name (when you watch the show you’ll understand the reference).
Ruth (Alison Brie) is a struggling actress, rebelling against the male dominated industry that is Hollywood. In a casting, she deliberately reads the male character’s part because “it is better (than the female part).” The response from the casting director is a “yeah, no s***!”…….Or words to that effect. Now, I don’t wish to alarm anyone but thirty years on, and I think women might still be facing some of these issues in Hollywood today – oh wait hang on, I see what they did.
Ruth accosts the casting director after waiting for an hour in the ladies toilet for feedback – yes, feedback is a really important thing to an actor and is instead offered work in the porn industry. A little rattled and a gym session later (lets get physical, physical, sorry I couldn’t resist) Ruth complains to her good friend Debbie (ex star in a popular soap opera) about the state of her life; hardly any money, no work, all the usual woes of being an actor, its not all glam. But Ruth has moved on, she is a full time mother, and this it seems has given her purpose. None of this resonates with Ruth, as she is determined to make it as an actor. A surprise voicemail from the aforementioned casting director later that night, advises Ruth of a casting that has come up (not porn) but for “an unconventional girl, whatever that means” and so Ruth finds herself sitting with a host of “unconventional women” not entirely sure why they are there but all hungry for work. The ladies are whittled down to a cast of fourteen who will become the next “GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING!”
GLOW is a remake of the 80s TV wrestling show G.L.O.W, originally created by David McLane, and is now in the very capable hands of Liz Flahive (producer on Nurse Jackie & Homeland) and Carly Mensch (also producer on Nurse Jackie, as well as Weeds and Orange Is The New Black).
The writing is witty, and humour sharply observed, some of the dialogue might feel a bit crass at points but it’s incredibly naturalistic. Why this works is because the writers can talk about current issues facing women, against an 80s backdrop and get away with rather a lot. It has a real sense of authenticity. It also picks up on stereotypes, how each individual can come under one and how that can be used for commercial gain, under the guise of providing society with entertainment – ok, might have gotten a bit strokey beard there, so back to the wrestlers!! GRRRRRRR!!!
A great ensemble with Alison Brie as the lead, viewers may remember her from Mad Men and Community. She is steady in her performance, and although she is the lead, she is not immediately likeable, which is something that I liked, ironically, the character is developed enough for the show and you do want to see more of her. Other notable faces include Rich Sommer, who was also in Mad Men with Ms Brie and is husband to the gorgeous soap star Debbie. I don’t want to reveal too much about him because of spoilers but he puts in a decent performance. Kate Nash, yes, that’s right, singer Kate Nash, she plays an over sexed actress, and does a very good job of being an American attempting an English accent (I do hope that was intentional) she is very endearing indeed. I discovered in writing this that she has also appeared in Community. Betty Gilpin, that’s Debbie, appeared in Nurse Jackie, she has the most to overcome in the show, it feels as though the stakes are high for her, again, I won’t spoil it for you.
The rest of the cast is formidable and while the show is about women, having such a large ensemble doesn’t really afford you enough opportunity to become attached to any one member of the cast and so for me, the stand out character in the show was Sam, played Marc Maron, which benefits from his extensive stand up career, who, apparently had a falling out with his one time buddy – Jon Stewart – say what??? It’s in his IMDB bio strangely. Marc is superb as the semi washed up director, of zombie erotica art house cinema – yeah, I’ll just let that hang for a bit, with a normalized but very much out of control cocaine addiction. It’s the 80s and everyone is having a party! Right? He strikes the right note between honesty and irony, and keeps the humour very much alive. Plus, the writing also helps, did I mention, it’s great!
A well crafted show that will be very interesting in the second series, it could go anywhere and I have a feeling, it will.
Take a look at the Trailer!