Thursday, July 13, 2017

GLOW

So generally when someone requests a review from me for something, it's after I've already seen it and have shared my general reaction of it, and they merely want me to expand my thoughts. In this instance, however, this was the first time someone requested me to review something I hadn't actually seen, and honestly wasn't even planning on watching, as I don't exactly feel it necessary to watch every single new show that releases onto Netflix. So after that initial request, I was a bit hesitant to jump in. But then I learned that this series actually consisted of half-hour long episodes for a change, as opposed to the usual hour long. And honestly, that was the biggest selling point for me.

I've mentioned in the past how I'm not a big TV guy. I just think that it's generally too long, too time-consuming, and too much to keep up with. And nowadays, with these mini-series popping up on Netflix that are closer to the 10-13 episode range, that does make them easier to digest. However, almost every time, I come out thinking that they were still unnecessarily too long, and that there was so much that could've easily been cut in order to make the shows even tighter. But honestly, I didn't get too much of that feeling from GLOW, and I think a lot of that does have to do with the tighter half-hour format, which we just rarely see anymore these days in anything that's not a sitcom. So that was a huge breath of fresh air for me, as it made this such an easy sit to get through, and not at all a chore, like so many shows these days usually wind up being.

So it's a nice, quick watch, but is it any good? Well, I have my reservations, but on the whole, yeah, I dug it. Standing for Gorgeous Women Of Wrestling, the series follows the production of building a small wrestling organization centered around a colorful cast of women, and it's a pretty fun and interesting watch. I would say that my biggest initial drawback was that our main character who we follow, played by Alison Brie, starts off as probably the most unlikable character in the whole show, but then it makes sense when she's eventually cast as the main heel of this federation, as she's such a natural in the spot. So while it might start off initially off-putting, it comes together in a nice way that really works, and by the end of it, I found myself starting to come back around to this character, if not entirely able to forgive them, very similar to her co-lead in the show, played by Betty Gilpin.

Another souring element that recurs mostly earlier in the show is that there's a lot of really unnecessary nudity that honestly adds nothing and actually takes away from the show, making it feel gratuitous even, and often happening at random, so it doesn't even feel like it naturally fits in with everything else. A minor point, sure, but again, the way it was handled just felt needlessly off-putting and distracting, so thankfully they did away with this as the show continued to progress.

But as for the good, the cast is great, and everyone really gets their time to shine and let their characters grow. For as large a cast as this is and how relatively brief the show is, you really do get a good grasp on all of these lively characters. My favorite though was probably the director, played by Marc Maron. He starts off as a totally unlikable douchebag, but has one of the more complex and intriguing arcs in the series, as he battles with all of the personal demons that are haunting him in his life, and the way he allows for these elements to dictate his demeanor towards others, as well as how they influence his art as a film director.

Obviously I was able to relate to a lot of this aspect, and seeing this whole low-budget production come together really hit home for me in a lot of regards. But especially later on, after he discovers that an idea of his has already been used, yeah, that's something that I've experienced myself and have even discussed as recently as my Power Rangers review from earlier in the year (though that is not the only time this has happened to me in the past year), and it's definitely one of those things that almost make you question why you're even doing this. So to see that element play out here was sort of surreal for me, for how recently relevant it is to my own experiences.

I also really liked just the way the whole thing grew from the ground up, watching these ladies discover their wrestling personas (and yeah, taking place in the 80s, a lot of this winds up being very generic stereotypes, but it works here) and learn how to actually wrestle, featuring some decent cameos from actual wrestlers who would come in and show them some moves. Yeah, it became a bit cheesy when you could tell they could only afford some of these guys for a limited time, so there were episodes where the main cast were essentially training themselves with no actual supervision, which, what the hell? But that was easy enough to sorta shrug off.

My favorite episode though was probably as our two leads were putting together their match that was to be the main event of the first show, when they met with Carlito and Brodus Clay to teach them a few tricks in the ring. It was just really cool seeing them start to slowly grow as actual wrestlers, and I actually found it pretty motivating witnessing their undying determination to improve.

So yeah, this winded up being pretty good overall. There are some minor missteps here and there, but nothing that's not easy enough to look past. Unlike a lot of these shows, I never got the sense watching this that they were padding it out for time, so it's very well paced and easy to digest. All in all, there's a lot of fun, and while I can't say for sure how accurate a lot of this is to real life (I'm guessing most of it's not), I thought this worked on the whole, and would definitely recommend it. I wouldn't even say you have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy it either, as, similar to some of the characters in the show, I actually think the show's good enough to where it may very well win you over and make a brand new fan out of you yet.

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