TBT: Re-watching GLOW with my 11-Year Old Self

It seems everyone is talking about Netflix's series GLOW. Rick is talking about it. My friends are talking about. Hell, I expect Donald Trump to rage-tweet about it soon (Allison Brie? No talent! Sad!)

I've only gotten through the first three episodes so far, so I'm not going to discuss the show at length here. Instead, I thought I'd do a Throw-Back-Thursday on my vague memories of GLOW. I remember watching it as a kid, so in order to do this post, I spent some time watching a number of clips online. And I had forgotten a lot about GLOW: the horrible production values, the racism, the sexism, the rapping. Why did I ever watch this in the first place?

Hmm. To do this properly, I'll need to reconnect with my 11-year old self. So I will travel back in time to 1989 and talk to me then. I will do my damnedest to not step on anything and forever tear a fabric in time.

Now, here we go. *gets into Wrestling Shame time machine....yes ,we have a time machine. Rick doesn't blow all our money on avocado toast.... travels back to Pennsylvania in 1989. Finds 11-year old me in the basement watching GLOW*

11-year old me: WOW!! WHO ARE YOU??

38-year old me: I'm you, from the future. Listen, I need to talk to you about something...

11-year old me: Are you here to tell me to do something to change the future for the good? Is this like the Terminator? *pause* Wait, shouldn't I have more hair?

38-year old me: No....*sigh*...Look, I need to ask you about this. *points to the television*

11-year old me: It's the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling! It's really cool!

38-year old me: Is it? Look, for reasons I can't get into, nor fully-explain, it's kinda en vogue in 2017 and I want to understand why I watched it as a kid.

11-year old me: Cause it's cool???

38-year old me: That's begging the question.

11-year old me: Huh?

38-year old me: Spoiler alert kid: you'll be an underpaid, over-educated man in 2017 and the misuse of "begging the question" will drive you nuts, but you'll nod silently and try to avoid wincing when people on television, your friends, the woman you're on a date with uses....look, nevermind. Alright, let's focus here. Why do you like this? I mean, just look at this! This rapping is awful.

11-year old me: But the rapping is cool!

38-year old me: Look, in a few years, you'll hear Public Enemy for the first time. Then the Wu Tang Clan. Then the Roots. You'll start to get rap and hip-hop.

Also, let me tell you this: this entire show seems to exist as an excuse to put attractive women in skimpy costumes (in many respects, GLOW was the natural progression of how professional wrestling treated women for decades, but that's perhaps another post for another day). While you don't comprehend "The Gaze" or exploitation, I think you know GLOW wasn't taking the women wholly seriously as wrestlers, and you understand  there's a titillation factor here that makes GLOW risque-viewing.


38-year old me: But in about ten years, you will, you really will. And you'll be better for it.

11-year old me: God, you're a jerk. Why did you contact me?

38-year old me: Because I wanted to figure out why you watched this. I mean I think we understand that there's some sexual appeal here, but is there more?

11-year old me: Well, I side with the wrestlers?

38-year old me: Oh?

11-year old me: Yeah! I mean, I guess I understand what you're saying, but I do want women like Roxy Astor, Cheyenne Cher, the Farmers' Daughters, Tiffany Mellon to win, and I HATE some of the bad guys, especially Godiva.

38-year old me: *turns to audience* Godiva, for those who don't know, was the uber-heel of GLOW. A nod to the figure of English folklore, Godiva would come to the ring astride a white horse, while wearing a flower-bedecked bikini (or a nude-nylon one piece) and gaudy make-up. More often than not, she would taunt the crowd in her English-accent, and illicit some genuine heat.

Case in point: her match here against Justice, wherein Godiva taunts the crowd from the get-go, and while holding a broom, says that her African American opponent reminds her of her house-keeper back in England.

I never said pro wrestling was progressive. Also, her accent is ludicrously bad, but the actor portraying her loved the role and found it absurdist theatre...

11-year old me: Wait, she's not English?

38-year old me: No, she's not. She's a professionally-trained actor from Los Angeles.

11-year old me: Oh, I guess...that makes sense. *pause* Wait, who are you talking to? And how are you cuing up these clips? On a computer? How is that possible?

38-year old me: Look, it's complicated. But yeah, I can see how you would react that way to Godiva:
she's a heel, and you're still reacting to heels like a lot of wrestling fans should -- or how promoters want their fans to. But, if memory serves, I think you'll start to think differently. Hold on a sec. I want you to watch this clip with me and tell me what you think.

11-year old me: Well, what do you think of this?

38-year old me: Paul, the ring looks ridiculous, the commentary is awful, there's no flow to this match...

11-year old me: I HOPE CHEYENNE CHER WINS!

38-year old me: Paul, can I tell you how racially problematic her character is?

11-year old me: Huh?

38-year old me: Look, just trust me on this.

11-year old me: Huh?

38-year old me: Just pay attention in history class.


38-year old me: SHE DID!!!

11-year old me: THAT'S BULLSHIT

38-year old me: TOTAL BULLSHIT!!!


38-year old me: Well, there it is. This is putting it mildly, but GLOW had its many, many, many faults. But at least for me, it taught me that perhaps professional wrestling wasn't as cut-and-dry as it had been presented to me. I think from that point on, I started to see merit in the arguments of heels -- and begin to actively root for heels in certain situations. And perhaps -- even on a small level -- I started to see the world with a bit more complexly.

11-year old me: I suppose that's something to look forward to. Man, this is all kinda depressing.

38-year old me: Well, it's part of growing up. You start to understand that the world is a far more complex place.

11-year old me: It's still kinda sad. I guess I'll be happier when the Flyers win the Stanley Cup next.

38-year old me: You and me both kid...

11-year old me: What do you mean?

38-year old me: Uh.....

11-year old me: Hey, is this Donald Trump guy gonna go away anytime soon? He seems like a jerk...

38-year old me: ........

11-year old me: I should stop asking questions, shouldn't I?

38-year old me: Atta boy....now, I should get going before I destroy this timeline. *Gets into time machine, but knocks over a lamp before doing so. Gets out of time machine in 2017. Everything appears to be normal. Stops and grabs a newspaper where the headline reads "President McMahon to VP: "YOU'RE FIRRRREEDD."* 

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