GLOW, Heroes, and Villains

Netflix’s new series, GLOW, surprised me. I almost didn’t watch it (an odd thing to say less than a week after it was released, but somehow it’s true), but I like Alison Brie, and it looked like something different, something unique.

GLOW is the story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. It’s a bit of a misnomer, but in a good way: Some of the women aren’t traditionally beautiful, but I love seeing such a diverse cast instead of the standard lineup of 6 skinny white women (though, granted, the two leads are skinny white women). I’ve seen this level of diversity on several Netflix shows, and I really appreciate that such a variety of actresses are getting roles like these.

The writing on GLOW is superb. There are a number of moments where the script is so raw and real that I had to pause and rewatch certain parts. This helps the characters really come to life on the screen. The acting is also fantastic, especially given the physicality required.

I also learned a lot about wrestling, which has never particularly interested me. But my job is to entertain, just like wrestlers, so it was really neat to see how exaggerated archetypes and a clear distinction between good and evil are used to rile up a crowed. A hero is the most effective when they have a great villain to compete against.

I was thinking about that concept when I watched the Team Ninja Warrior finale yesterday. I realized that in American Ninja Warrior, there are only heroes, no villains. For the most part, I enjoy watching a bunch of likable people who genuinely seem to root for each other. The only “villain” is the course itself.

But…it would probably be pretty interesting if there was a villain on the show. Someone who is really, really good. Someone who people root against…but they’re so talented that you also kind of root for them. Someone who pushes the other contestants to their limits. I don’t know for sure if it would work, but it would be a neat concept to test for one season.

What do you think? Does a great villain always make it more fun to root for our heroes? Or can a show succeed with only heroes? Oh, and if you’ve watched GLOW, what was your favorite part about it?