Entertainment Television

Netflix's 'GLOW' gets ready to rumble

By Nelson Branco, 24 Hrs

Stars of "GLOW" are seen in this handout photo from the show. (Erica Parise/Netflix)

Stars of "GLOW" are seen in this handout photo from the show. (Erica Parise/Netflix)

What’s hotter than wrestling right now? Gorgeous ladies of wrestling, sillies!

And that’s what Netflix is banking on when they purchased the new 10-part series dramedy, GLOW, which begins streaming Friday.

Produced by Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan, GLOW is somewhat of an accidental tale of feminism based on the real-life female syndicated wrestling TV series that aired between 1986 and 1990.

Created by David B. McLane, GLOW is being touted by critics as Netflix’s next big streaming addiction.

24 Hours got scoop-slammed by the stars of the unique series: Community alum Alison Brie, Nurse Jackie star Betty Gilpin and comic/podcaster Marc Maron, who plays former washed-up Hollywood director Sam Sylvia.

Why is wrestling is so hot again – and why does it resonate with people?

Maron: Because we just elected the biggest heel in the world. Politics have become like wrestling. What I learned is that wrestling is very cathartic for people. It helps them make sense of good and evil. There’s a lot of emotional catharsis and pure context that – although most of the audience knows it’s not reality – these characters in the ring become real to them. This spectacle can provide relief to an audience.

Did you watch the original GLOW?

Brie: I did and I watched the documentary (by the same name) on it. It was all so cool and exciting to watch after being cast – especially to see how outlandish the characters were. Not only their style, but the sketches the women were performing were kind of groundbreaking. But after watching a bit, I needed to remove myself from it. All of our characters are fictional so I wanted to give myself over to our story. I didn’t want my performances to be influenced by the past. I still can’t believe anyone in Hollywood hasn’t thought about revisiting GLOW before.

Did you guys go through any training?

Gilpin: Absolutely – like four-and-a-half weeks of training before we started filming. WWE’s Salvador "Chavo" Guerrero Junior was our wrestling coach and we had two stunt coordinators as well. We learned the basic wrestling moves. And then, throughout shooting, we worked our way to bigger, more complicated stunts.

Maron: (Joking) I had to relearn how to do coke, smoke cigarettes compulsively and learn to be acquainted with a pair of cowboy boots. That took a few weeks to lock into.

Brie: My favourite moves were the suplex and the headscissor, which is a tricky move and not everyone could do it but I feel like we got really good at it. We were told you knew you were doing it correctly when you could feel your chin against Chavo’s crotch!

Maron: I’ve heard that before (laughs)! I hadn't done much acting as someone who wasn't me. But I immediately related to this guy. I knew he was enough like me I could probably handle the role, but different enough that he wasn't neurotic or lost in his own trip like I am so much. His flaws are interesting.

Alison and Betty, how empowering was filming this series?

Brie: There were moves I never thought I'd be able to do. But after the training, you realize what you're capable of. It was exciting and not as dangerous as it first seemed. Also, I didn't wear much makeup. I didn't feel like I had to look beautiful for everyone and flirt with everyone to keep my job or remain interesting. You could just give a compelling performance. Your looks didn't really have anything to do with it.

Gilpin: In the past, I'm usually told to do a take where I do less with my face. Being an actor, you always have to think about being in the male gaze. Through Debbie, we see what happens when the bloom starts to fall off and you're not the first person to be sexually harassed in the room. She's getting her face smooshed with spit and snot flying everywhere. That's the most real, in-your-face portrayal of what being a woman actually feels like.

The first few scenes of GLOW were impactful when Alison, your character, Ruth Wilder, couldn’t land a substantial part in Hollywood unless she found a male part so she joined female wrestling. A lot of actresses will relate.

Brie: The terror in that is very real. I have a past and present of struggling. For so many working actors everything is a constant struggle. The terror in that is very real. I lived in my mother’s house until the second season of Community and during our fourth season of Mad Men, which means I’ve been working on shows and (still being cautious) because I wasn’t sure I would still continue working! So it was very easy to tap into those emotions.

Gilpin: Our show and GLOW in the 80s helped change things for women, which is why this was such an exciting project. It’s important because GLOW was performed, produced, directed by women of all shapes and sizes, different ethnicities.

Maron: I think we’ll get great demos: for today’s teenage girl, I think they’re going to find GLOW really powerful – even though GLOW was highly sexualized, these women were in charge.