Glow on Netflix—a show about women in wrestling that isn’t just for wrestling fans.

Every GM should watch professional wrestling.

Let me amend that. Every GM should watch good professional wrestling. And yes, before you ask, let me say that there is such a thing.

For most people, their experience with the genre is limited to 80’s style WWF kick-punch-repeat. Well, my fellow gamers, that’s like someone saying, “I don’t like gaming” after playing Tomb of Horrors.

When friends of mine ask me how I can watch pro wrestling, I ask them for twenty-five minutes of their time so they can watch Max Landis’ Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling. And if you aren’t a wrestling fan and you’re wondering why I am and you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Video below (probably NSFW, depending on where you work).

I could go on about this, but that’s not why I’m here. Why I’m here is to encourage you to watch GLOW on Netflix. A show that’s loosely based on the real all-woman wrestling promotion from the ’80’s. I say “loosely based” because while the show does tell the story of an actual wrestling promotion, the characters are completely fictional. Now, me being a nut for history—especially the history of the things I love like gaming and pro wrestling—I recognized a lot of what’s going on. There are tips of the hat to the actual people involved and that’s kind of cool. Almost like making a fake version of Europe for a fantasy roleplaying game…

Watching the show reminded me of running an all-woman game of Changeling a while back. Running a game for women is entirely different than running a game for men. Priorities are different. The tone is different. And watching a show run by women, written by women with an almost entirely female cast about something I love gave me an entirely different perspective on professional wrestling.

But then again, this isn’t a show about professional wrestling. It’s a show about women in professional wrestling, but it’s still a show about women. And in the hyper-testosterone world of wrestling, that’s not just a breath of fresh air, it’s like opening the door on Socrates’ cave.

I not only enjoyed the heck out of watching GLOW, I’m also grateful for it. I ran all the way through it, watching episode after episode. And I’ll probably watch it again. Seeing GLOW and Wonder Woman in the span of a couple of weeks had a profound impact on me as a writer, a storyteller, a game designer and a man.

A friend of mine once asked me, “John, why do so many women play your games?”

I replied, “I try to make games women want to play.”

GLOW isn’t just a show for women, but it is a show about women. And women shouldn’t be the only ones watching it.

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2 thoughts on “GLOW

  • My question regarding wrestling and GMing (and I watched and enjoyed GLOW) is … what can I learn from wrestling as a GM that I can’t learn from watching soap operas? In broad strokes the two seem similar with regards to melodrama, heroes/villains and the fall/redemption cycle(s) many go through. As a matter of personal preference, I find soaps more interesting both on a storyline and aesthetic level, so what can wrestling show me as a GM that soaps can’t?
    This comes out more challenging than I really mean it, but I have tried to watch professional wrestling and I really didn’t care for it for a variety of reasons (the kayfabe isn’t one, but the testosterone level is), I have also watched soaps off and on and while traditional ones that focus exclusively on the relationship drama don’t really appeal to me either, there are enough out there where that’s a sub-plot rather than the prime plot (at least on an episode to episode basis) that I’ve found some I do enjoy. I’m also not a huge fan of melodrama in general, so if I *should* watch something where melodrama is part of it’s nature, I need a good GMing related reason why I should go with wrestling over trying to pick up on Days of Our Lives after 20 years of not watching. Neither really appeals, but at least Days of Our Lives has some characters I already care about.

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