If you are unsure what to watch for television these days, you only need to follow the illustrious career of Hollywood producer Jenji Kohan for your new favorite show. She is the principle creative behind "Weeds" and "Orange is the New Black" and her latest producing credit comes from the Netflix original "GLOW", one of the highest-rated television series to premiere during the last few months.
Inspired by the 1986 women's wrestling show of the same name, "GLOW" showrunners Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive were looking to write a story combining the end of first-wave feminist movement in the 1970s and its lasting effects (if any) on the 1980s. The show's premise-- a troupe of struggling actresses in Los Angeles resigned to a low-budget reality show-- is the perfect place to showcase the sexist and discriminatory problems known to plague Hollywood.
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is part-soap opera, part-pro wrestling saga, riddled with classic troupes such as extra-marital affairs and illegitimate children. It follows the professional and personal lives of failed stage actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), her best friend and retired actress-turned-housewife Debby Eagan (Betty Gilpin) and down-on-his-luck film director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). The three initially cross paths when Ruth shows up to Sam's casting call and Debbie interrupts the audition to confront Ruth over the affair she is having with Debbie's husband. The former actress can't resist the opportunity to forsake motherhood and return to the spotlight and soon Ruth & Debbie become the pinnacle fight in Sylvia's production. The show seamlessly melds the duo's personal issues with staged in-the-ring drama and the physical (although fake) violence allow Debbie and Ruth to work through the problems in their friendship. Similar opportunities lend themselves to other members of the wrestling team, as the obnoxious, fame-seeking Melanie "Melrose" Rosen (Jackie Tohn) gets the attention she craves from her audience while Carmen "Machu Picchu" Wade (Britney Young) finally gets out from under the shadow of her famous wrestling family. Marc Maron plays a character that, at first glance, seems perfectly in line with his real life history as a washed-up, drug-abusing entertainer, though he is able to toe the line between an embittered womanizer and a surprisingly sympathetic father figure.
Just as Maron is able to inhibit seemingly opposite roles simultaneously, GLOW is brimming with bright moments of feminist pride, balanced with bouts of eye roll-worthy sexism. Just as its characters gain hard-won confidence through moments of adversity, they are often relegated to stereotypical roles based solely on their race of physical attributes. Snappy writing paired with historically accurate costumes & production design make GLOW insanely easy to binge-watch.