Wrestling is about 'surprising the audience and surprising ourselves,' says executive producers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch
GLOW has yet to scoop up a second season renewal, but its first season has already got audiences in a headlock as more and more viewers pass on the message of Netflix’s “silly-smart masterpiece” set in the ‘80s world of women’s wrestling.
Executive producers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch are holding the cards close to the chest when it comes to a possible second season, but the duo did let slip a few choice teases about what the trajectory of GLOW could look like. For one thing, don’t bother looking to the real-life G.L.O.W. for hints about the chapters of the sport’s rise and fall.
“We knew pretty early on we wanted to split from the original and create our own fictional version, so we’re kind of on our own,” says Mensch. “We do know that once you know how to wrestle, you can’t unlearn it. So we’re done with the kind of ‘learning the basics’ part of the show. What’s next is the big question mark. But we’re definitely not going back. We’re going forward.”
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To that point, GLOW may share DNA with Orange Is the New Black (Jenji Kohan produces both), but Flahive and Mensch applied forward-thinking momentum from GLOW‘s inception and eschewed the approach of flashing back to the origin stories of its central ensemble. “It was never part of our conversation, mostly because it feels very much part of the mission statement of Orange to understand how someone got to where they are, whereas a lot of our story is not about where they’ve been but where they’re going,” says Mensch.
For right now, they’re on their way to homes across the country — slowly, but surely. In the last moments of the season finale, the team’s wrestling pilot finally makes its way to air, marking a major albeit still relatively small victory for the nascent idea. “Honestly we take it so slow in season one — G.L.O.W. is not in the world in our narrative yet,” Flahive says. “They’ve shot a pilot in front of an audience, but it hasn’t gone beyond that in terms of people watching. So the idea of how these characters are in the world and how that hits our women will be an interesting part of our story.” That includes neon heroes and hyperbolic character stereotypes and all. If the unsettling hostility towards Arthie’s (Sunita Mani) terrorist persona was any indicator, expect a good amount of reverberation when TV viewers meet the outrageous archetypes that Sam (Marc Maron) has bestowed upon the wrestlers. “It means one thing to play a stereotype in practice,” says Mensch. “It means another thing to play it on television.”
Outside of the ring, one of the most pressing questions raised by the finale is the fragile status of the show’s central frenemyship between Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin), whose final line to Ruth before the credits roll — “We’re not there yet” — may have subverted viewers’ expectations of how the season might wrap up. “Just because a television season ends conveniently after ten episodes, that doesn’t mean that that’s all water under the bridge,” says Mensch. Flahive adds, “Female friendships are very, very complicated and it’s a long road. We wanted to signal that we knew that the trauma to that friendship was deep and real, and we’re excited to explore more and keep it in an authentic place.”
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The most exciting thing about season 2, then, is how unpredictable it is for the showrunners themselves, who say the season 1 finale — which ended with Welfare Queen stealing the crown from Liberty Belle — was an unexpected development for them in the writers’ room. “We had been building a U.S. versus Russia match the entire season, and the more we understood wrestling, the more we realized we needed to throw a monkey wrench into that,” says Mensch. “It was part of our season discovery in what wrestling fans really like. The more we got to understand wrestling, the more that we learned wrestling was about surprising the audience and surprising ourselves.”
The full first season of GLOW is available on Netflix.
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