Unlikely TV Recommendation: GLOW

I have to start off this review with a very large disclaimer. There are a large number of you who will not like GLOW. Not because it’s a bad television show, but because the content is simply too adult. It’s rated TV-MA for good reason, so if that’s something that turns you away, then by all means turn.

On the surface, it seems an easy enough show to dismiss. A comedy-drama focused on the beginnings of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) in the 1980s? It just sounds too preposterous to work. It sounds, quite frankly, terrible. As in “a show I would never watch.”

I’d heard good things around it, though. Great things, even. I heard it had great plots and writing, and super characters. That the setting and premise was more just background to tell a super story. I looked at the show once or twice on Netflix, just to see how it was described. No amount of “it’s really great though” could get me over that initial “This looks stupid” bump, however.

But then the second season came out, and I heard the same good things. The buzz was, it was even better than the first season. And it was nominated for an Emmy for best comedy series. And it racked up nominations for the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes, Writers Guild, and a slew of others.

That was enough for me to give it a shot, despite the content. My personal line is “I watch good media,” but “good” can mean a whole range of things. I pay a lot of attention to writing, directing, acting, character development, and the like. I want to watch and read artists at the top of their game. So I gave GLOW a shot. It’s a half hour per episode show. I could watch one episode and dismiss it.

Except it was un-dismiss-able. That one episode was pretty riveting. I breezed through both seasons in a week and a half. I gave the first season a 10/10. It was seriously That Good.

The humor is spot on. The characters are compelling. You really feel for these people far more than you have any right to. Because while the ladies wrestling is the thing that brought all of them together, and it’s as over the top and ridiculous as you’d expect, in the end these are all people, each with their own story. They realize the wrestling is outlandish, but for each of them, it’s really their last hope at having something like a job or a life.

For example, we first meet one main character as she tries to land an acting job. Any acting job. She takes her craft very seriously, commiserating about it with her best friend, who’s also an actress. She’s failing, however. And then we see she’s had an affair with a married man. And then we see who exactly that man is married to. In the space of a half hour.

I don’t want to say much more than that. If this sounds like it might be something up your alley, it almost definitely is. I gave the second season a 9/10, by the way. It had a touch of a rocky start for me, but it ended even stronger than the first. Just really fantastic television.

Already seen it? I’d love to hear what you think.

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