A Persistent GLOW:
A Letter to GLOW and How It Influenced My Life
My obsession with GLOW began shortly after I watched the first episode when it aired in the summer of 2017 on Netflix. I don’t recall exactly when the intrigue set within me, whether it was the appeal of Los Angeles and the struggles of an actor or the surprise of one of my favorite female anthems, Patty Smyth’s “The Warrior” smashing into the title sequence, but it was one that has grown since I set eyes on the first episode. The recent cancellation of GLOW has found me reeling through the show’s three seasons and foraging for any snippet of unexplored content…trust me, I watched all three seasons basically with a microscope and notepad. I question why I have exhausted the seasons as I return to them often and I truly believe that I find new truth and strength in each review. In my experience, I have found GLOW to embody a strength for female characters and for life experiences and what it means to be hit (literally and mentally…) by challenges that women of many backgrounds face.
I was finishing my Junior year of college when I came across the trailer for GLOW as I couldn’t avoid the fluorescent lure of 80s nostalgia that I have always so dearly cherished when it comes to film and music. I was instantly absorbed by the story and the characters as they all held such truth to themselves and what they were going through. I have always had a passion for acting and film so Ruth played by Alison Brie offered an instant glimpse into the world of auditions. One of the most influential notes of the show was its focus on the exploration of culture and representation from a variety of women. I noticed that as the show progressed and the stories unfolded, it always came back to the feeling of striking out and finding triumph, but also understanding that through the challenges came knowledge and an awareness of how life really can be during a significantly tough time for women in the professional world.
While the show took place in the 80s, I often felt the journey of the women to be as relevant as ever as they navigated the imbalance of power and understanding for manifold unique, diverse and talented women. One of the significant draws for me as a young woman was watching the characters undergo challenges and experiencing the relentlessness that they embodied through it all even when it often led to risking job opportunities and friendships. I loved seeing characters like Sheila played by Gayle Rankin and Arthie played by Sunita Mani go through personal discoveries and growth in such varying and beautiful ways. The show constantly found a home and purposeful story from characters like Debbie Eagan played by Betty Gilpin to Cherry Bang played by Sydelle Noel (I love each character, no favorites here) in each episode and it was truly significant in so many ways.
I think the ending of GLOW held one of the most meaningful points as it once more exposed the idea that the paths that we take aren’t always the ones with neon arrows pointing to them. I found that the conclusion was not direct and that we were left with a lot of unknowns, but I think that reflected the show and the characters and dare I say, much of humanity. I know for myself, the ending was inspiring because it reinforced the spirit of the show and the undying drive that Ruth and all of the women possessed. As cliché as I may sound, watching the characters find the strength to constantly overcome various barriers and challenges forced me to continue that spirit in my life even when it was and still is, one of the hardest things to do.
Now, as a young woman out of college struggling to navigate the professional world and trying to find a path of my own, I often (emphasis on often…as in at least once a month) go back to GLOW when I need motivation. I was sad to hear that GLOW would not be making a fourth season as it has guided me and taught me much about being a strong woman, but I will value what it left me with for the time it was around. I will go the extra mile to be momentarily mawkish and say that I will keep the GLOW stories and characters with me as I hit roadblocks and winding roads as I am prone to them.
Thank you to GLOW for writing a story that promoted truth and value in all lives and narratives and for showing me what it means to be a warrior.