Ah the 80s – Generation Z don’t know what they missed! What an era of excess: a decade of money and fame and power, of glaring colours and daring music, of video and video games. Legwarmers ruled the streets, shoulder pads reigned in the boardroom, and men still ran the world…
Watching a series set just 30 years ago really brings home the misogyny of the time. Netflix original GLOW opens with unsuccessful LA actress Ruth (played by the immensely talented Alison Brie) auditioning for yet another part. “In this world,” she booms from behind a Wall Street desk, “there are good guys and there are bad guys. This is about my company and my name, and I will not be bullied into submission…”
At which point she’s stopped by the casting agent, who points out that she’s got the wrong lines. “You were reading the man’s part,” she’s told. “Would you like to start over?”
Ruth skims the script, and begins again, this time in the female role: “Sorry to interrupt sir,” she quavers. “Your wife is on line two…”
Needless to say, she doesn’t get the part and – in desperation – auditions for a new show called Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling in which staged women’s wrestling matches are broadcast live. And here, amidst the glitz and glamour, Ruth is able to exert her influence on an industry that hitherto has only portrayed women as mums or secretaries or waitresses…
As leading lady wrestler Zoya the Destroyer, Ruth is able to make a real difference. Aided and abetted by a supporting cast of similarly empowered women, she goes from strength to strength, exerting her influence to ensure her fellow females are heard and appreciated.
Even behind the scenes, GLOW is a lot more than neon lights and skin-tight spandex! More than half of its directors are female; the majority of episodes were written by women; and the ensemble cast showcases a multitude of races, ethnicities and sizes.
The long and the short of it? I like it because it’s all about women making a difference. Even today, three decades on, GLOW is relevant.