When it was originally on: 2017-present
Original network: Netflix
Where you can stream it now: Netflix
Had I seen it before: No
What IMDb says: A look at the personal and professional lives of a group of women who perform for a wrestling organization in Los Angeles during the 1980s.
Why I picked it: Netflix’s GLOW seems like a show I WOULD like, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It tends to show up as an “oh, so you like strong women?” type of show in my Netflix suggestions, and also there’s the aesthetic of the ’80s so I guess that’s cool?
I also picked this because I wanted a mix of both half-hour and hour-long offerings from Netflix, and I really had trouble thinking of half-hour Netflix shows that were any more popular than GLOW. They just don’t have any half hour show in their aresnal that’s quite reached Stranger Things or 13 Reasons Why levels of relevance. Is it actually because their half-hour shows aren’t as good? We shall see!
What I liked: The central protagonist, Ruth, is pretty great (and casting Alison Brie is always a winning strategy in my book.) She’s easy to relate to, especially for women who have ambitions outside of being a wife and mother. The pilot does a great job of showing us Ruth’s struggles, as well as her tenacity and determination to overcome them. We see how the challenges of becoming a professional actress, much less one who’s actually playing quality roles, are so great that we don’t think any less of Ruth because she’s failing to overcome them.
It also means that when Ruth finally breaks down and auditions for a professional wrestling league, we get it. Ruth is still strong and determined, she’s just desperate. So many pilots feature a character being forced outside their comfort zone and making choices they wouldn’t have made before. GLOW is a great example of how this can be done logically, and in ways that only strengthen our understanding of the character rather than dismantling it.
What I didn’t like: t I’ve only seen the pilot of course, but this seems like another “comedy” that’s really just a half-hour drama. I can get behind that (have you heard me rave about Mozart in the Jungle yet?) but I do think it’s worth mentioning in case anyone goes into this expecting a true comedy.
It’s also a bit frustrating that they don’t just cast Ruth’s friend Debbie for the wrestling show at the end of this pilot. I haven’t seen any more episodes, but I’m like 99% sure it’s going to happen based on the pilot. Now, it’s totally true that pilots are supposed to hold some story hostage so that you have to watch the next episode. This is television after all. But here, it just feels unfinished. It feels like the logical thing that’s supposed to happen next doesn’t. It’s so interesting to me how Netflix can get away with this, since so many people are going to let it autoplay into the next episode and don’t have to wait a week to see what happens.
Personally, I would’ve preferred they offered Debbie the job, but then we don’t find out whether or not she takes the job until episode 2. That gives us an unanswered question, plus endless possibilities for how Debbie’s decision might affect Ruth’s desire to do the show.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Yes. If there’s one thing that GLOW taught me, it’s that all you really need for a good pilot is a promising premise and a protagonist I can root for. Too many pilots overcomplicate things and lose track of this basic task, but GLOW passes the test with flying colors.