Do you love great acting? A bit of ’80s fashion leotard flare? How about weird and wonderful writing paired with badass female wrestling moves? Yes, I bet you probably do. Add in the fact that this based-on-a-true-story Netflix Original is made by some of the same people who brought you Orange is the New Black and Homeland, throw in a few rhinestones and cheating drama, and you have a pretty accurate description of the killer new series GLOW, which (full disclosure) I watched in two days flat. It was that compelling.
The letters of GLOW stand for the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. And according to Netflix Media, the show, which is set in Los Angeles in the ’80s, was “Inspired by the real story of the 1980’s female wrestling league.” I can attest to the show being extremely evocative of the ’80s in California, but the real triumph of the time and setting of the show is all the opportunity for over-the-top hair, spandex, and blue eyeliner that comes with a period show about women wrestlers.
It is so much fun to look at the wild-as-can-be hair, makeup, and costume looks that the characters sport, and then to see what these lovely ladies actually look like in their everyday lives ― more proof of the power of hair and makeup.
Alison Brie (Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder)
You may know the lovely and talented Alison Brie best from her role as prim and proper Trudy Campbell on Madmen, or as the uptight, kind hearted Annie Edison on Community. But Brie really gets to shine as the star of GLOW, where audiences get to see her in a whole new light. Even though Brie’s character appears topless twice in the first episode, and in a very skimpy ’80s leotard in subsequent episodes, Brie called her character “sexless” in an interview with A.V. Club.
In opposition with many of the other more “bombshell” characters, Brie is shot wearing no makeup at all in almost every scene besides the final wrestling performance, where she is glammed up in blue sparkles and giant hair. This make-under when compared with her normal actress levels of hair and makeup ended up giving Brie a sort of “empowering” experience, she told interviewers, saying, “[it] affected me as a person, not wearing makeup at all every day on set, and carrying myself a little differently and wearing ill-fitting clothes some of time. Not being looked at that way was actually very freeing and empowering.”
What’s the most notable difference for viewers between Brie’s character, Ruth, and her everyday style? Probably the giant ’80s hair with Farrah Fawcett waves. It’s not to be missed.
Betty Gilpin (Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan)
When interviewers at Refinery29 asked Betty Gilpin to describe her character, she answered saying, “I play Debbie Eagan, who is a former soap actress, new mother, and thought she felt powerful before but is learning that she has a deeper, more powerful power.”
And in an interview with A.V. Club, Brie described Gilpin’s character as “someone who has been a successful actress and has a bombshell body, and every time you see her she’s in full hair and makeup.” This description is not too far off from Gilpin’s actual life, though most of her roles, like playing Audrey in American Gods, feature a more “no-makeup” makeup look, she always looks well-coiffed, though not so “flashy” as her ’80s soap opera actress character in GLOW.
Sydelle Noel (Cherry “Junkchain” Bang)
Sydelle Noel, a former professional track athlete turned model and then actress after an injury, plays Cherry Bang, athletic and stunt trainer, and fellow wrestler to the women in the show. She discussed her dynamic career path in an in-depth profile with Interview Magazine, where she also talks about taking on the challenge of doing her own stunts. So while both Noel and her character, Cherry, are badasses at all-things-athletics, their way of styling their appearance is not so similar.
While Cherry’s choice of clothes and attitude in the series tend to be more on the gruff, practical side, Noel can be seen in her press pics, and in her photoshoot for Interview Magazine, laughing and stunting in various states of gorgeous and fashion-forward looks.
Britney Young (Carmen “Machu Picchu” Wade)
Britney Young, who plays a professional wrestler’s daughter Carmen (and “Machu Picchu” in the ring), was a cheerleader in high school, but found her way to acting, in part, through a position as a production assistant for shows like The Mentalist and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
She told Vulture about this compelling journey in a recent interview where she also discussed her similarities and differences with the character of Carmen. “I just love Carmen. I love that people are relating to her,” Young told interviewers. “And I think I related to her a lot, the aspect of, this is someone who was scared to follow her dream and now that she is finally doing it, she wants to put her full force into it, and if you’re not gonna support her, then she doesn’t need you to be there dragging her down.”
But Young doesn’t see herself and her character as being totally comparable. “I don’t experience the anxieties that she has,” explained the breakout star. “I have anxieties but it’s not about the same thing she has, you know? She’s got stage fright. Mostly she’s not used to being the center of attention. I’m more outgoing.” I think we can expect to see more and more from this new and compelling actress.