The two things I love the most: the ’80s and well-developed female characters. For some reason, I was postponing watching this show until I saw it was nominated for an Emmy. Then, I had to watch it.
The show, set in ’80s Los Angeles, stars Allison Brie and Marc Maron. Brie plays Ruth Wilder, a struggling actress and Maron, Sam Sylvia, a mildly successful director.
Brie has done comedic roles before like in Community, but I think this is one of her best. She brings out sweetness to the character that makes you root for her. Even when you’re cringing at her acting skills, you still want Ruth to succeed, you know that’s a true passion of her. And she’s funny. Sometimes you laugh with her, but most of the times at her.
Maron has acted before. I’ve seen him in Easy (another Netflix show) and that’s about it. I don’t think he has had too many acting roles, but the ones I’ve seen are not too far off to his real persona, a cynic angry man. His role in GLOW as Sam Sylvia fit these characteristics. Sylvia is this director who thinks he’s very avant-garde and doesn’t want follow the masses. His movies are borderline pornographic but he thinks they hold a mirror to society. They’re these pieces of art few people understand.
Ruth, trying to make ends meet, finally gets a casting call. She shows up at an empty gym. The casting turns out to be a show about a wrestling show called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW).
Ruth is this very enthusiastic actress just like Tobias from Arrested Development. They’re not so good actors who try really hard. And it’s funny seeing them try so hard that it becomes cringe-worthy. Ruth claimed that she once went “full method” with a character to the point her boyfriend didn’t recognize her. Something Tobias would do: staying in character for as long as he can. These type of actors feel they’re the most committed to their craft and have this urge to teach everyone around them how to act. They genuinely believe they are at the Meryl Streep level of acting.
Even though you see a lot of female characters in this show, it doesn’t mean they’re as empowered as you think they are. They’re great wrestlers, but that doesn’t make them immune to sexism in the ’80s (by far, way worse than it is right now). It’s been a decade after the women’s liberation and you see very little change in Hollywood. Ruth only gets auditions for secondary roles as a secretary. Even in GLOW, after directing, contributing new ideas, new characters, she still doesn’t get the credit she deserves. She’s dismissed as an actress who’s meant to read her lines and be quiet.
In one of the scenes, Ruth is invited to dinner by a big network producer to discuss her career. I think this episode was written as a parallel to what happened with Harvey Weinstein, his years of sexual harassment and the casting couch culture in Hollywood. How it’s been happening for years, but showing how in the ’80s it was harder for women to come out; There was no #MeToo movement as support. Even though Ruth was able to escape the uncomfortable situation, she is shamed by one of her peers because she didn’t put out and as a consequence GLOW might get canceled.
On a lighter note… They also joke about how slow things were in the ’80s without the technological advances we have today. Things we take for granted like printing and not having to tear the sides of the paper, taking pictures and running out of film, or literally taping a show and having to wait until the tape was ready in order to air it on Television.
Overall, GLOW is a great show. A very nuanced comedy. I like how you can see the parallels between the ’80s and the present day. GLOW is set in the ’80s but it definitely feels modern.