WHO takes you inside the ring of TV’S delightfully audacious ’80s wrestling show
WHO takes you inside the ring of TV’S delightfully audacious ’80s wrestling show.
Despite what you may have heard, women don’t glow without a little sweat. Netflix’s buzzy new comedy — GLOW inspired by the real-life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a televised female-wrestling showcase that ran in the late 1980s—is a bruiser encased in spandex and hairspray. In one corner: Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), an aspiring actress who claws her way into a wrestling pilot despite knowing nothing about the sport. In the other: the friend she betrayed, Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), a former soapopera queen who is spurred to take control of her life—and deliver a few smackdowns—after Ruth has an affair with her husband. Debbie takes on the role of all-american hero opposite Ruth’s communist Cold War heel, and their best-friend break-up bleeds into the ring. “Halfway through shooting,” Brie recalls, “I realised and said to
Betty, ‘ You know, we are the will-they-or-won’t-they of the show.’ ”
In that dynamic, Ruth is difficult to root for but impossible to root against, and co-star Marc Maron, who plays the director whose quest to film the pilot serves as the season’s backbone, credits Brie with pulling off such a contradictory role. “That weird balance of desperation and persistence and charm—earnest charm—it’s a tough character to put together,” he says. Unlike Maron’s Sam Sylvia, who instructs the wrestlers on the show-within-the-show to masquerade as stereotypes, GLOW trusts fans to relate to the women in all their complexity.
“It’s a great time for a show that pumps up women and reminds them what they’re capable of,” says Brie.
Judging by the series’ knockout debut, viewers feel the same. “The thing that’s so cool is everyone’s watching the show and seeming to get what we intended,” says executive producer Carly Mensch. Fellow EP Liz Flahive says she’s relieved the details aren’t being lost in the rush to binge the 10-episode first season: “People are paying attention to the big shiny wrestling stuff and also the tiny, tiny moments.” WHO talked to the creative minds behind GLOW to get the scoop on how those moments—from the killer 1980s soundtrack to Debbie’s glorious costume reveal—keep fans coming back to the pink-roped ring.
Bashir Salahuddin as Keith and Alison Brie as Ruth.
Ruth (Brie, left) and Debbie’s (Betty Gilpin) friendship dramas play out in the ring. Fashion flashback: Chris Lowell (left) and Sunita Mani.