Why “Glow” Is the Netflix Show of the Summer


Think about what makes a great summer TV show – it has to be fun and entertaining, of course. It has to be binge-worthy. And it has to feature themes and topics that are light enough for the carefree days of summer, when many of us are heading to the beach (or, at least, the local neighborhood pool). So that’s exactly why “Glow” is the Netflix show of the summer – it delivers on all of this, and more.

#1: “Glow” is just good nostalgic fun

There’s nothing that says nostalgia more than ‘80’s music, big hair, and Jane Fonda leotards. This show has it all, and it’s just good fun. There are LA skate punks, seedy California motels, and plenty of hair spray.

Critics have called it “shameless summer fun” – and why not? If you’re sitting at home during the summer, you probably want to stream something on TV that’s not going to require a lot of mental effort, and that’s “Glow.” Just sit back and soak in the outrageous outfits and beautiful women in the wrestling ring.

The basic plotline of “Glow” is that a group of washed-up actresses from Hollywood during the 1980s are going to unite to form the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). The movie itself was inspired by the original cult TV hit of the 1980s, which covered the rise of the women’s pro wrestling league in the 1980s.

And that’s what makes us so nostalgic – there seemed to be an era not so long ago when it was perfectly OK to enjoy shows just like this. Back then, professional wrestling was still a very underground, amateur sport and that’s what gave it so much fan appeal.

#2: “Glow” features a great ensemble cast and sharp character development

The real goal of “Glow” is to show us how these out-of-work actresses suddenly became wrestling stars. In this Netflix series, we meet them from the very beginning, when Sam Sylvia (played by Marc Maron) comes up with this outrageous concept. Maron himself is excellent in the role of the GLOW promoter, and special mention has to be made about Alison Brie, who plays the role of actress-turned-wrestler Ruth Wilder.

While Alison Brie is the official star of the show, the unofficial star of this show are the other 12 ladies. Each one of them seems to have a unique story, and it’s all very compelling. The character development in this series is top-notch, and encourages you to keep on watching. By the end of the 10 Netflix episodes, you will really care about these women.

#3: “Glow” is light and binge-worthy enough for a summer escape

You can watch “Glow” however you want. It’s a Netflix show, so the initial urge is to binge. And that’s what many people did as soon as the show came out. But here’s the thing: “Glow” is only 10 episodes of 30 minutes each. That’s a total of 5 hours. You could theoretically binge on this during a long summer afternoon. And that’s why “Glow” is really so much fun. It doesn’t require as much focus or attention as a typical 10-episode or 12-episode Netflix binge.

#4: “Glow” is the perfect mix of “Wonder Woman” and “Orange Is the New Black”

The one movie that took cinema box offices by storm this summer was “Wonder Woman.” That movie was so special because it was a superhero movie made by a woman for women. It reflected a real female mentality and point of view. And, in many ways, “Glow” shares some of those characteristics. It’s also made by two women – Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch – and it also reflects a uniquely feminine point of view. In short, “Glow” seems to tap into the current cultural zeitgeist.


And there’s one more thing – the same team behind “Glow” is also behind the Netflix cult favorite, “Orange Is the New Black.” If you love OITNB, you’ll love “Glow.” It’s also a story of strong female characters. Only this time, these characters are not in the Litchfield prison facility, they are in the professional wrestling ring.

So “Glow” manages to combine the very best of “Wonder Woman” and “Orange Is the New Black.” These female wrestlers may not be traditional superheroes, but they are heroes to many (including many teenage boys). And the show delivers the same type of dynamic character development that we’ve come to expect from “Orange Is the New Black,” but without all the heavy commentary about socio-economic conditions in America.

#5: “Glow” is not afraid to explore gender and racial stereotypes

Yes, “Glow” is a light, entertaining TV series for the summer. But it also has range and depth to it. The show is fearless in exploring gender and racial stereotypes. There are plenty of scenes where the wrestling promoters are trying to come up for identities for these girls – “the Arab girl” or “the Big Black Beautiful Woman” – where we vividly glimpse all the stereotypes floating through American society at that time.

But there are also all the stereotypes within the Hollywood acting community. There’s a reason why these women are out of work or under-employed – they are fighting against entrenched prejudices in the industry. In fact, many of the characters talk about “justice” during this TV show.

#6: “Glow” is the perfect origin story show

Deep down, we all love origin stories. We all want to know how something started, and why. And that’s why people love “Glow” so much. In many ways, this Netflix series is the perfect origins story, showing us how a pop culture phenomenon of the 1980s came to be.

And this is also a story of underdogs. And who in America doesn’t love a good underdog story? To give the series as much authenticity as possible, the female actresses even agreed to do their own stunts on set. So we are seeing real women being transformed right before our eyes into pro wrestling divas. This is really exciting stuff.

Thus, for so many reasons, “Glow” really is the Netflix show of the summer. It’s lightweight and entertaining – but comes packed with enough punch to make it truly binge-worthy. You’ll love following along as these women, led by Ruth Wilder, reinvent themselves as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.



How “Okja” Will Change Your Life


As soon as “Okja” started streaming on Netflix on June 28, it started to generate intense online discussion about genetically-modified food, animal abuse and the virtues of a vegetarian diet. It is, in short, the type of film that gets people talking. Here’s how “Okja” will change your life.

#1: “Okja” will make you more aware of genetically modified foods in your local supermarket

The fundamental premise of “Okja” is that an evil corporation called Miranda Corporation is breeding genetically-modified superpigs. As part of a 10-year experiment, the company has placed 26 GMO superpigs around the world, to see where the most conducive environment is for breeding and raising these superpigs in the future.

But that’s where things go terribly wrong, because “Okja” – a superpig residing in South Korea with young Mija – is destined to become meat in the local supermarket if someone doesn’t save it. Miranda Corp. is ruthlessly breeding these superpigs as part of a broader strategy to solve the world’s food shortage problem. The superpig – which tends to resemble a really cute hippopotamus more than a pig – is a source of sustainable protein that “just tastes f***** good.”

Of course, that raises a bigger question about the role of genetically modified foods in today’s world. Do you really know what’s being sold in your local supermarket, and why? As we see in this really thought-provoking film, corporations can come up with an upbeat, positive marketing campaign for just about anything – and that includes pigs that are being bred to huge proportions as part of a master plan to solve the world’s food shortage.

#2: You’ll become a crusader for animal rights after watching “Okja”

One of the sub-plots of the movie involves the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a group of radical animal rights activists that are determined to free these genetically modified superpigs from captivity. Along the way, there’s even an epic scene where young Mija rides her superpig through the streets of Seoul, South Korea in an attempt to avoid Mirando Corporation.

As we’re shown time and time again in the movie, the Mirando Corporation often resorts to cruel and unethical treatment of animals in order to advance its corporate goals. No wonder PETA has become a champion of this film. And actor Paul Dano, who plays the role of the ALF activist Jay, has given interviews about the way the film has really affected him. Talking about Okja, he noted, “She’s beautiful, and feels real to me… and very emotionally real, too.”

Even pigs, it turns out, have emotions and thoughts. As PETA points out, pigs are social, playful and form emotional bonds. They can learn tricks, like sitting for a treat, and can often recognize their own names. And in the film, Okja is just so adorably sweet and wonderful – she’s like a hippopotamus that learns little tricks and is very loyal to little Mija. Who would possibly want to harm that wonderful creature?

#3: You’ll stop eating meat after watching “Okja”

The film also takes us behind the scenes to see how the meat is made at slaughterhouses. Your stomach will go sick from seeing these scenes – you’ve probably never seen what a mass killing factory looks like, and how little animals are ruthlessly slaughtered in the most inhumane way possible. The director of the film, Bong Joon-ho (who also directed “Snowpiercer”), himself visited a pig slaughterhouse in Colorado before making the film. And that experience alone completely turned him off meat.

Some, like foodie blog Eater, have declared that “Okja will turn the world vegan.” That might be overstating things – especially since BBQ is such a national pastime in South Korea, where the film was made – but it does suggest that people will re-think the role of meat in their diet. Some have also compared “Okja” to the 1905 masterpiece by Upton Sinclair, “The Jungle,” which chronicled the unethical and sickening behavior of Big Meat in America.

If you want to get started with a vegan diet after watching this film, PETA has you covered. They’re currently offering a “vegan starter kit” to help wean you away from meat. Every time you pass the meat section of a supermarket, you’ll be reminded that every beef burger is the byproduct of a cow that’s been murdered in some horrible way.


#4: “Okja” will make you yearn for your youthful days of innocence and purity

One of the real highlights of “Okja” is the very young Mija, played by South Korea actress Ahn Seo-hyun. Some have suggested that “Okja” conjures up the feelings and emotions that we felt a generation ago, when we watched Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” That movie, too, had a certain innocence and purity to it, reminding us that even strange alien beings can possess human-like emotions and thoughts.

And just as young kids rescued E.T. from harm, it’s the youngsters in “Okja” who must rescue the superpigs. It’s that scene of young Mija riding a superpig through the busy streets of Seoul that will leave an indelible mark on you. You won’t be able to get that vision out of your head.

The exact opposite of this innocence is represented by Lucy Mirando (played by Tilda Swinton), the evil CEO of Mirando Corp. Whereas the children are innocent and delightful, Lucy Mirando is ruthless and calculating (and just a little vulgar about the way she describes the superpigs). It turns out that the real “pigs” are the humans like Lucy Mirando and her evil twin sister Nancy Mirando (also played by Tilda Swinton).

Overall, “Okja” really packs an emotional wallop. When the movie first premiered at Cannes, it received a four-minute standing ovation from the audience. People loved the movie and it how it told such an important story in such a clever way.

This film will really change your life. You’ll become much smarter about topics like GMO foods and the perils of a world food shortage. And you might just decide to give up meat forever. Okja the superpig is more than just a cute pet – she is a symbol of something much more, and that’s why this film is so powerful and will resonate with audiences everywhere.


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“Orange is the New Black” Season 5 Is the Worst One Yet


Maybe long-time Netflix viewers started to expect too much from “Orange Is the New Black,” and they were inevitably doomed to be disappointed sooner or later. After four magnificent seasons, in which “Orange Is the New Black” made us re-think what’s possible in a TV series, Season 5 just never lived up to expectations. It’s safe to say that “Orange Is the New Black” Season 5 is the worst one yet.

Bizarre tonal shifts

While “Orange Is the New Black” has always shifted between genres, often interposing scenes of tragedy and comedy next to each other, there’s something distinctly “off” about this season. It’s almost like the series has lost its bearing, veering wildly from comedy to tragedy and then back to comedy, and viewers really don’t know what to think.

The New York Times has compared Season 5 of OITNB to “a speeding vehicle with a wheel missing.” With this season, the show is going too fast, the steering is unsteady, and it’s clear that there’s no slowing down. And this lack of focus can be disjointing – especially since all the action of Season 5 takes place within a very concentrated period of 72 hours. The mood swings are just too intense.

Plotlines and narratives just don’t add up

By now, you probably know that the dramatic narrative of Season 5 involves a prison riot and its aftermath at the Litchfield prison facility. The inmates rise up, take over the facility, take hostages, and reorganize themselves. One prison inmate, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson (played by Danielle Brooks), tries to negotiate with the private company that runs the prison, urging them to change the living conditions within the prison.

So far, so good, right? This is the type of compelling story that “Orange Is the New Black” is known for. But then comes an episode smack dab in the middle of Season 5 that just doesn’t make any sense. Online fans have referred to this as “an homage to slasher films,” and it involves one of the prison guards (Piscatella) acting like he’s a villain from one of the “Friday the 13th” movies, abducting and tying up inmates.

What’s so bizarre about this whole plotline is that even the show’s writers don’t know how to play this. As a result, you get an episode that’s part horror film, and part comedy. It’s campy and cute and also horrifying. At some point, viewers don’t really know what to think. “Are they just messing with us?” is a thought that’s going to come to you during Season 5.

And that’s not all. There’s also the plotline of the prison inmate Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett (played by Taryn Manning), who winds up getting married to the man who raped her in Season 3. The show tries to make this into a bigger story of forgiveness and redemption, but it just comes off as a mess.

“Orange Is the New Black” fails to deliver on Shakespearean-sized ambitions

After four seasons of being an “important” series, “Orange Is the New Black” seemingly overdoses on its sense of self-importance. The website Vox.com has called Season 5 “staggeringly ambitious” and “a huge mess” – in the same sentence. That’s because the whole series starts to take itself too importantly.

Here’s just one example: the effort by the prison inmates to reorganize themselves into some kind of new women’s commune. There are all kinds of “important” socio-economic issues raised here, such as the possibility of building a society anew so that it is fair to everyone. But “Orange Is the New Black” constantly interjects its Shakespearean ambitions here, almost as if the show’s writers were trying to combine the very best of Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies into one TV show for the ages.

And here’s another example: the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (played by Uzo Aduba), who has a role very much like that of the Fool in “King Lear.” She’s been taking medications for her mental illness, but the more addled she becomes, the more capable she is of speaking truth to power. But when it all comes as a rambling monologue, it just doesn’t add up.


“Orange Is the New Black” has a final cliffhanger scene that may have driven too far off the cliff

The big cliffhanger scene of Season 5 – the one that has already sparked debate and discussion about a Season 6 for “Orange Is the New Black” – is a microcosm of what’s both right and wrong about the series. In that final cliffhanger scene, the riot police have stormed the Litchfield facility to restore order. And the 10 key characters are standing together in one room. For one of the first times in the five seasons of the show, the dramatic action has seemingly transcended racial and tribal lines.

This is supposed to be a big, important moment. It is supposed to be a moment when we imagine what’s possible when people rise up and reorganize into a better, more just society. But instead, the cliffhanger comes off as a tired ending to the season after the show has already careened out of control.

It’s almost as if many of the main characters are being prepared to be sent in new directions (or perhaps written out of the show entirely), and the easiest way to do this is just to gather all of them in one place (the abandoned swimming pool-turned-bunker at the prison) and then have the writers spend the off-season debating what to do with all of them. Next season, when some characters disappear, there will be a good reason why.

In addition, two of the main stars of the show – Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon) and Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling) – seemingly no longer have a primary role to play in the series. In Season 5, they are often reduced to offering snarky commentary on the prison’s living conditions, but do not play a heroic role in changing those conditions. Some fans have even speculated that these characters won’t even be coming back for Season 6.

Ultimately, the problem may be that “Orange Is the New Black” simply raised our expectations too high. It was always one of the Netflix poster children for the “golden age” of binge-watching, but it’s clear that binge-watching (just like binge-eating) can have some pretty negative consequences. You don’t feel so good, and you suddenly can’t stomach the idea of one more episode of the series.

Hopefully, that feeling of a bad binge will wear off and we’ll be just as excited for Season 6 as we were for Season 5. But one thing is certainly clear – “Orange is the New Black” Season 5 is the worst one yet.



“Wonder Woman” Inspires Women Worldwide


The hype about the big screen debut of “Wonder Woman” on June 1 had been growing for weeks. Initial box office estimates for the film’s opening weekend continually grew – from $65 million to $75 million to $90 million and now $98 million. Everywhere, it seemed, little girls were looking for Wonder Woman costumes to wear to the premiere. And feminists embraced the film, too, given the strong female superhero lead (played by Gal Gadot) and the female director (Patty Jenkins).

As a result, “Wonder Woman” looks to be the type of film that changes our notions of what superhero films can be. If you hadn’t noticed, superhero films had been getting a lot darker recently. The line between heroes and villains seemed to be blurring, and too many superheroes were tormented by inner demons that gnawed away at their souls and personality. The trend had been towards the creation of flawed superheroes struggling between good and evil.

But that’s hardly the case with “Wonder Woman” – this female superhero is a shining beacon of hope filled with innate goodness. Gal Gadot is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and could become into the type of female role model that women have wanted for years. Almost unanimously, it seems, reviewers were calling this the “most inspiring superhero movies in years.”

Moreover, the box office success of “Wonder Woman” might just break the female glass ceiling for directors, too. Of the top 1,000 films in the decade-long period from 2007-2016, only 4% of them had a female director. That’s a staggeringly low figure. The highest-grossing box office weekend by a female director had been “50 Shades of Grey” at $85 million, and this new “Wonder Woman” film looks like it will decisively smash through that record. From here on out, Patty Jenkins will be able to direct any film she wants – not just the inevitable prequel or sequel to “Wonder Woman.”

The main reason why “Wonder Woman” is inspiring women worldwide is clearly the character of “Wonder Woman.” This is not just a sexy woman in a sexy costume. She is someone who will not be upstaged by her male co-leads. This is a movie where the woman is clearly the strongest character. And she does more than just fight the bad guys with her strength and courage – there’s an overriding sense of goodness about her.

The one line from the movie that everyone is talking about is when Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) says in a voiceover, “The closer you get to humans, the more you see the great darkness simmering within.” This is when you realize that we are about to see the world from an entirely new set of female eyes. Diana Prince is naïve, the result of living in an isolated Amazonian world filled with a community of female warriors. Now she is about to see “the war to end all wars” – and she alone is convinced that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The character of Wonder Woman has poise and beautiful feminine grace. At times she is naïve, but she is also filled with a sense of purpose. She can be funny and sexy. And, best of all, she understands that her own unique power is “fueled by the power of love.” That is the major difference between Wonder Woman and other comic superheroes – her power is not fueled by revenge, or a thirst for power, or a desire to avenge some wrongdoing in the world – it is just fueled by love.

And that fundamentally changes the way she approaches the world. Unlike the men around her, she is not willing to let a single person become a victim. She is not willing to write off a single life, and is firmly convinced that “only love can truly save the world.”

This film, then, is almost certain to reinforce society’s belief in the need for strong women – not women who are hardened and cynical and behave like men – but women who are beautiful and strong and good. This is a remarkable role model – and a good reason why Wonder Woman merchandise seems to be flying off the shelves. Girls and women (and even some guys) want to wear Wonder Woman T-shirts emblazoned with the “double W” and sass it up with Wonder Woman leather jackets.

Here’s just one indication of how popular Wonder Woman has already become – eBay sales of Wonder Woman-related merchandise literally doubled from April to May. The numbers for June are not yet in, but it’s almost a certainty that they will be at record levels.


On the premiere weekend, girls and their mothers showed up at the cinema in their Wonder Woman outfits. Guys showed up in drag as well. The positive word of mouth reviews are only going to create more demand for this “Wonder Woman” movie. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 94% freshness rating – an almost impossibly high score for a blockbuster summer film.

Everything about the film seems to have a unique female sensibility to it – much of I driven, no doubt, by the fact of having a female director. Take the fighting style of the Amazons, for example – it is a fighting style that is based on precision and agility rather than overwhelming force and violence. In the movie trailer, you can see this close up, as the Amazon warriors elude bullets or use perfectly-timed balletic movements to overwhelm their foes.

In other superhero films – such as the recent “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” in which Wonder Woman had a cameo role – women have always been secondary characters. At best, they have been the Lois Lane to Clark Kent’s Superman. In short, women have either been glossed over in these films, or just given secondary billing. In “Wonder Woman,” though, women are given first billing, and it’s a joy to watch.

Already, Hollywood insiders are predicting a sea-change in how the big studios think about superhero films. “Wonder Woman” has inspired them and showed them that “good” heroes are not “boring” heroes, that a story that is optimistic and full of hope about the future is more exciting than a story that is negative, cynical and full of dystopian story lines.

Truly, “Wonder Woman” inspired women worldwide – and this is just the start. After a mega-blockbuster opening weekend, this film could become the biggest hit of the summer. Get ready to see lots of people dressed up as Wonder Woman wherever you go this summer, as young girls and women embrace this new superhero role model.


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