GLOW: Season Two On Demand review

Netflix’s wrestling dramedy pulls no punches with a second season that puts you in a heart-lock as the grappling girls finally take to the air…

Ostensibly the true story of a scrappy women's wrestling federation that aired on US TV in the 1980s (for more on this look to the 2012 documentary The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, also on Netflix), GLOW is a fast-moving dramedy now into its second season. The action may centre around a ring, but the blows it lands are emotional.

The second season opens with our troupe ready to go on-air. Storylines and characters are sorted, but the real battles are off-camera. Liberty Bell, aka Debbie (Betty Gilpin) is struggling to come to terms with her separation from her husband and child, while Soviet Spy (not really) Zoya The Destroyer, aka Ruth (Alison Brie) takes it upon herself to shoot a goofy show intro with cameraman Russell (played by filmmaker Victor Quinaz), that ruffles the feathers of insecure, chauvinist director Sam (an endearingly sleazy turn by Marc Maron).

It quickly becomes clear that GLOW isn't a show about wrestling at all. Series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch (who sharpened their claws on Netflix stablemate Orange is the New Black) are actually telling a story about American TV in the '80s, and the women that worked in it. GLOW also orbits the world of grindhouse cinema. Sam's often-ridiculed, but clearly seminal, oeuvre of low-budget horror movies indicates the cantankerous director warrants far more respect than he ever gets.

As a Netflix original, don't expect GLOW on disc anytime soon. If you want to see it, dip your toes in the stream…

Picture: GLOW has an authentic gritty, grainy aesthetic. Presented in Dolby Vision on compatible screens, 4K HDR on others, it's not overtly flashy. The extra detail afforded by 4K makes big close-ups pop – helpful as a good deal of story is told through the cast's faces – but the HDR element is largely inconsequential. Strip lights and headlights have intensity, but the overall picture balance is level.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: The 5.1 soundmix is biased to the front, for a wide stereo spread, although crowd noises benefit from surround channel atmosphere. The soundstage tangibly opens up when the cast are floppin' and boppin' in the ring.

One of the joys of GLOW is the sense of period it evokes, both in production design and character. And much like fellow Netflix hit Stranger Things, it uses '80s music to locate the drama, and this is generally played out party-mode style. Not a system stretcher then, but in terms of design it's a clean pinfall.
Audio rating: 4/5

We say: The latest season of Netflix’s wrestling series makes all the right moves with its storytelling and AV presentation.

GLOW: Season Two, Netflix Original