Friday, July 23, 2021

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GLOW Review: Episode 1 (airing on Netflix on June 23) “Well … it’s not porn, so you know …”

The good folks over at Netflix were kind enough to provide Diva-Dirt with advance media screeners for the new 10-episode series GLOW, which will be debut in full tomorrow.

Starting today, Diva Dirt will present a daily review of each episode of the series, which was based on the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling that aired from 1986 to 1990.

For those who weren’t around when the original GLOW debuted, the series was essentially a satire of professional wrestling, which had become massive after the first WrestleMania and the WWF’s co-promotional efforts with MTV.

Created by Matt Cimber and David B. McLane, GLOW featured a cast of models and actresses who had taken a crash course in wrestling (the cast of the first season was trained by Mando Guerrero). It was pro wrestling combined with Benny Hill-style bawdy humor, wrapped up in a Hee-Haw aesthetic, and it became a runaway hit.

GLOW was syndicated throughout the country. The GLOW girls even appeared on a celebrity edition of Family Feud (against a group of WCW wrestlers).

The fad came to an end as the 1990s arrived, but GLOW has experienced a resurgence in recent years, including (in addition to the Netflix series based upon it), a 2011 documentary (GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) and series of “AfterGlow” alumni events, including tropical cruises with the original cast.

That should catch you up on the back story. Here’s where we are with episode 1:

Ruth Wilder (played by Alison Brie) is a spunky actress looking for quality roles in a 1980s Hollywood that seems to be casting females only as one-dimensional secretaries or love interests. In desperation, she answers a casting call for “unconventional women” (“It’s not porn,” her agent quickly adds) and finds herself in a run-down warehouse staring at a wrestling ring.

Director Sam Sylvia (played masterfully be comedian Marc Maron) is casting women for a new Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television show. “This is a wrestling television show,” Sylvia announces. “Only ladies. Lady wrestlers. Just like the big guys, but girls. Get it? Girl on girl.”

 “So, like, Hulk Hogan,” one actress asks.

 “If one of you turns out to be Hulk Hogan, I’ve hit the (expletive) jackpot,” Sylvia responds.

Episode one also features a cameo by John Morrison as Salty “The Sack” Johnson, the trainer of the GLOW girls (a stand-in for Guerrero).

With a dearth of other roles available, Wilder put her all into getting a spot on the GLOW roster. However, a personal conflict (this is a major plot point for the season; we’ll address this spoiler in tomorrow’s recap after episode one airs) threatens to destroy her chances and threatens to tear friendships apart.

Netflix’ GLOW tells the story of a 1980s phenomenon with a modern-day sensibility. There is some course language and brief nudity (though not much, and nothing as gratuitous as one might think for a show with “Gorgeous Ladies” in the title), but the show treats pro wrestling with respect. Wilder is a likeable character, but Maron’s Sam Sylvia is the backbone of the show. Wry, caustic, and cantankerous, he is to GLOW what Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan was to the Rockford Peaches in A League of Their Own.

 Episode 1 sets the stage and a surprisingly good, and quite funny, series. Check it out.

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