An Ode to “GLOW”

By Morgan Roberts

This year, we have lost many things. As of writing this, 210,000 Americans have died.  The worldwide death toll is up to 1.04 million human lives lost to COVID-19.

There are some more trivial things that we’ve lost like brunch, going to the cinema, travelling, concerts, just being in others’ presence.  Films we’ve been dying to see have been pushed back or shelved.  Shows we love have been postponed or cancelled.  The world is hard.  And it has become increasingly difficult after seven months of quarantining – if you’re being good – to find something to bring me joy.  One thing that always brought me joy was the Netflix show, “GLOW.”

Photo Credit: Netflix

If you know me, you know that I talk about “GLOW” – a lot.  Like, an annoying amount of “GLOW” discussion goes on because I literally rewatch it all the time. So, the one thing slightly holding me together was the prospect of a new season.  Well, like many things ruined in 2020, Netflix announced it was cancelling “GLOW.”  There are many things I would have liked to have seen wrapped up in the fourth and final season.  The storylines I would have loved to see unfold.  The performances that would make me laugh one minute and cry the next.  But instead of lamenting about what could have been, or writing a strongly worded email to the powers that be, I figured the most productive way to say goodbye to “GLOW” would be one last ode, a little “thank you.”

“If you know me, you know that I talk about “GLOW” – a lot.  Like, an annoying amount of “GLOW” discussion goes on because I literally rewatch it all the time.”

“GLOW” premiered in June 2017.  The world had changed drastically from the start of filming to its eventual release.  I mean, a certain someone was elected and the fallout of that was already being felt.  Then, for myself, I found myself in a bit of a tumultuous time.  In fall of 2016, I stupidly closed my wrist in my car trunk and that injury required surgery.  I thought the surgery would help but instead, I was left with further pain and limited range of motion.  My job became increasingly difficult.  I couldn’t do the activities I loved to unwind.  And the worst part of all was feeling the weather as it approached.  Think Karen from “Mean Girls” but with painful arm. By spring of 2017, I was asking for the hardware in my arm to receive an eviction notice, in hopes that would correct things once and for all.  As my second surgery loomed, I continued to struggle in my day-to-day life.  I couldn’t do the things that I used to and I felt very detached from myself.  I felt weak.

The week before my surgery, Netflix’s show “GLOW” was premiering.  I was intrigued due to the premise – amateur female wrestling in the ‘80s.  And it had Alison Brie from “Mad Men” and “Community.”  I expected to watch a fun, entertaining show.  Instead, I got to see a group of women empower each other and feel empowered in their own skin – something I so desperately needed.  It was women from all backgrounds with differing body types, using themselves in the most athletic and incredible ways.  Outside of the physicality, you got to see women be vulnerable, vengeful, hilarious, creative, optimistic, powerful.  How rare it is that women can exist in their complexities and be celebrated for them.

Photo Credit: Netflix

The show’s humor as well as its moments of drama were smart and calculated.  Yet, despite being well-thought out, every moment seemed lived in, experienced in its fullness.  Whether it is an emotional camping trip seder or a hospital verbal match, a “Freaky Friday” situation or wrestling ring wedding, the show knew its characters, knew what it wanted to say about women then and today, and it knew how it wanted to portray women.  “GLOW” had it all – sheer delight and heartbreak.  From the writing to directing to the sets, the show was on point.  

“How rare it is that women can exist in their complexities and be celebrated for them.”

And nothing brought this group of women to life the cast: Jackie Tohn as partier turned softy Melrose, Britt Baron as angsty artsy teen Justine, Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekkah Johnson as the epitome of ride-or-die BFFs Stacey and Dawn, Ellen Wong as bubbly on the outside/incredible survivor on the inside Jenny, Marianna Palka as slightly deadpan but always funny Reggie, Sydelle Noel as pragmatic and dynamic Cherry Bomb, Kia Stevens as tireless fighter Tamme, Shakira Barrera as authentic and honest Yolanda, Sunita Mani as thoughtful and caring Arthie, Kate Nash as sweet and hilarious Rhonda, Gayle Rankin as conflicted yet endearing Sheila, Britney Young as optimistic and hardworking Carmen, Betty Gilpin as Debbie who is equal parts rage and compassion, and Alison Brie as Ruth a beautifully conflicted and endlessly determined woman.

Photo Credit: Netflix

All of these performances, the stories that this show shared got me through some of the tough times, not just with my bum arm but a car accident, a cancer-stricken parent, and now a pandemic. If this cancellation, and all the other elements of uncertainty in Hollywood, has taught us anything is that the arts are so vital for our well-being. It has kept us sane during this bonkers time. Brought us comfort. Eased our worried minds, even if just for a moment. Art, in all its forms, has been our companion through this unprecedented and often lonely time.

So, here is to “GLOW” in all of its sparkly, outrageous, Spandex-y glory. Thank you for all the times you made this world feel a little more hopeful.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

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