Keely Flaherty

My Dudes, “This Is Us” Season 2 Is Going To Destroy Us Emotionally

Randall tells Rebecca that his wife, Beth, has doubts about adopting a baby. Rebecca tells Randall the story of how Jack pushed her to adopt Randall after their biological triplet died during birth, but she resisted. “Your father was so sure. I was tired and I was grieving,” Rebecca says in the clip, as we see past Rebecca and Jack look at Randall in the hospital. “And he just kept pushing me.”

The Glorious Bodies Of “GLOW”


Erica Parise / Erica Parise/Netflix

Betty Gilpin as Debbie

“You know what the craziest part of this whole mess is? I actually like wrestling,” Debbie (Betty Gilpin) tells Ruth (Alison Brie) in the ninth episode of Netflix’s original series GLOW. “It’s like I’m back in my body, and it doesn’t belong to Randy or Mark,” she says, referring to her newborn son and husband. Pausing, she blinks back tears: “I’m using it for me, and…I feel like a goddamn superhero.”

GLOW is full of drama, big hair, pink glitter, and spandex, but at its core it’s a show about women’s bodies — which is exactly what creators Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive intended from its inception. “We often describe it as a ‘body show,’” Mensch told BuzzFeed News earlier this month. “We had a lot of talks early on, and we wanted to make a show about bodies. [Wrestling] was a completely different way into a body story, and that excited us.”

The bodies of GLOW form a refreshingly inclusive spectrum. During one scene, the nefarious Welfare Queen (Kia Stevens), a buxom black woman, slaps Machu Picchu (Britney Young), our muscular hero and the Queen’s physical equal, square across the face with a handful of food stamps. During another, Zoya the Destroya (Brie), a petite white woman, and Fortune Cookie (Ellen Wong), a petite Asian woman, storm the mat together as a pair of vicious villains. The wrestling ring is a colorful setting, often dealing in extreme stereotypes, and GLOW serves us an appropriately diverse cast of characters.


Erica Parise / Netflix

Sydelle Noel as Cherry Bang

“We didn’t want it to be the same body over and over,” Flahive said. “There are types of bodies that end up on wrestling shows that don’t end up on regular television, whether it’s larger women or muscular women.”

Such a commitment to representation — plus the number of leading players in the show — set the creators up for a rigorous casting process. “We created the cast of characters we wanted, and then said to the casting director, ‘Find the best actors, but please find us every shape and size and color out there,’” Mensch added. Oh, and they also needed to be gifted, naturalistic actors who were game for a one-month wrestling boot camp before filming, who could also portray over-the-top wrestling personas. “It was a limited pool,” Mensch laughed.

The boot camp helped create a rare bond between the actors, which went beyond the casual friendships formed during a standard stare-at-your-script table read. “You must bond with someone once you’re putting your vagina in their face,” Sydelle Noel, who plays Cherry Bang aka Junkchain, tittered to BuzzFeed News. Gilpin described the boot camp as a “Kill Bill-style training sequence for my soul,” which also helped alter the way she thought about fitness overall. “I used to go to exercise classes where it was like, ‘We’ve gotta tighten our triceps and make our thighs smaller or no man is ever gonna love us, so let’s blast some Kesha and get this going!’” she half-laughed. “The second I started eating what I want, exercising for fun and function rather than shame and posing, that’s when I started to enjoy my work way more — rather than letting body terror dictate my choices.”

The rules of GLOW boot camp were simple: safety first, and don’t worry about weight loss. It was a drastic change of pace for Noel, who said that for most roles she’s booked, she’s first congratulated, then immediately asked to start a meal plan and lose 10 to 15 pounds. That wasn’t the case with GLOW — in fact, it was the opposite. Mensch and Flahive made it clear that no one in the cast should actively try to lose weight before filming (but whatever natural changes occurred as a result of boot camp were fine). Each woman had been chosen for a number of reasons, and one of those reasons was their body — as it was. “Every single one of us is a different body type,” Noel said. “They supported whatever figure we had.”


Erica Parise / Netflix

Kia Stevens as Tammé

Kia Stevens, who plays Tammé Dawson aka Welfare Queen, has been an IRL professional wrestler for 15 years, and knows first-hand how the sport can change a woman’s relationship with her body. “When I first started off in wrestling … men were still running everything. It was always, ‘If you really wanna be successful, you might wanna think about shedding a few pounds.’” She saw fellow athletes struggling to meet an impossible body standard: “Backstage, some of these girls are half-starving or getting this sucked out or that sucked out or this put in or this plumped up,” she sighed. However, Stevens found her “traditional body” gave her a relatable edge. “There are more women who look like me in this world and who come to our shows, so I did it my way and I was successful. I didn’t have to starve myself and lose all this weight to become a successful villain.”

GLOW afforded Stevens the opportunity to witness her costars find that same strength. “It was like watching a wrestler be born, which is a really precious thing,” she said fondly. “By the end of the training camp, they’re these Amazon goddesses that were like, ‘Yes I can, give it to me!’”

That newly discovered power and camaraderie carried over into filming — especially when it came time for the cast to don their tiny spandex unitards: No one seemed nervous about baring their body. “From the beginning of the series really, these girls are showing a lot of skin, and nobody had any issues about it at all,” said costume designer Beth Morgan. “Part of what I think was so amazing about this whole process was that it was so women-driven.” Whenever a cast member showed up in a new costume, everyone from the cast to the crew would rave. The set provided the women a safe environment. “Nobody had any concerns because they felt supported, and in a way that I think is really rare in any show, or in any line of business.”

Morgan included painstaking character-driven details in the costumes — purchasing Machu Picchu’s costume directly from a market in Peru, sewing frog closures on the side of Fortune Cookie’s costume — and relished the opportunity to dress a vast spectrum of body types. “For me, it didn’t feel as much like a challenge as a privilege to not have to do just size zero, because it isn’t realistic in the world,” she said. As she moved from fitting to fitting, each necessitating different dimensions and palettes, Morgan was forced to “constantly change [her] mindset,” which stretched her creativity. “You can’t just think about the same design sensibilities for each character. They each had a different set of rules we had to follow because they’re such different shapes and sizes. For me, it was really great to see these girls thrive and feel comfortable in their bodies.”


Erica Parise / Netflix

From left: Kia Stevens as Tammé, Britney Young as Carmen, Marianna Palka as Reggie, Gayle Rankin as Sheila, Sunita Mani as Arthie

Creators Mensch and Flahive also wanted to avoid making the cast look unnaturally coiffed. “I find it so alienating when I see people who don’t look like real people on TV,” sighed Mensch. Brie got a perm and, according to Flahive, “basically wore not a drop of makeup” outside her wrestling scenes. Even the initial casting calls reflected the show’s naturalistic, styled-down approach. “They said they wanted my character to come in in yoga pants and a tank top and literally no makeup on, and I was like, This is my type of role,” Noel said of her audition for Cherry Bang. She went to her try-out straight from the gym, merely wiping off her face and putting some Vaseline on her lips. “We, as women, we want that!” she said of the experience, noting that so often she gets dressed and made up for 10 minutes in an audition room, only to go home and strip down after. “But on this show, for some of us, it was very au naturel. I didn’t have to get dolled up. They’re showing us as we are.”

For Gilpin, less time in the makeup chair felt like a small but important closure of the gender gap. “As a rule, actresses get up earlier in the morning than actors. We’re called to set that much earlier because it takes two hours to Emerald City-style scrub scrub here, scrub scrub there, get us into show-pony mode. Actors come in, their hair gets scruffed with some gel, a brush is passed over their nose, and they’re cooked.”

The lack of makeup also helped the actors to connect emotionally, both on camera and off. “Sometimes on set, when you first interact with people after [hours of] hair and makeup, it can feel like you’re meeting the fake result version of me instead of no-makeup, real me,” Gilpin continued. But on GLOW, “We’re basically in our pajamas, no makeup, just everyone’s bodies sweating together. Taking that energy, that sort of, this is who I am at my basest, barest level … it was a completely different experience than I was used to.”


Erica Parise / Netflix

Alison Brie as Ruth (left) and Betty Gilpin as Debbie

Despite its quiet subversion of how women’s bodies are often portrayed on TV, GLOW was never about pushing some sort of agenda. At the end of the day, Mensch and Flahive wanted to tell the most emotionally resonant story possible. “Do you want to notice what the person is going through emotionally, or just notice the lipstick and the hair? And how perfect they look when they wake up?” Mensch asked. The creators also drew on plenty of inspiration from other female creators who have tread on similar ground. “What Lena Dunham did on Girls in terms of bodies and comedy and the way she used her body and nudity on that show is, I think, spectacular,” Flahive said. She also hat-tipped GLOW executive producer Jenji Kohan’s work on Orange Is the New Black. (“They changed things completely.”)

But agenda or not, the show adds a welcome brushstroke to the television landscape in terms of body representation. And on a smaller scale, it gave both the actors and creators a different relationship with their own bodies. “We were aware of our vulnerability in a heightened way,” Mensch, who was “secretly pregnant” during filming, said. “There was a huge awareness of the limitations of people who are not used to being in their bodies.”

Gilpin did a photo shoot recently, and she made sure that none of her curves would be airbrushed out. “Baby steps — it’s terrifying,” she laughed. “We [need to] stop perpetuating the lie that women are either craggy old sea captains or shiny sexual pennies. I would like to see more real women: all shapes and sizes, like GLOW portrays.”


Erica Parise / Netflix

Alison Brie as Ruth

The Women Of “Star Wars” Are Starring In A New Animated Series

The series of animated shorts (each 2–3 minutes in length) will explore all new adventures of key characters from the Star Wars canon — Rey, Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, and Ahsoka Tano, among others. Launching in July, the micro-series will be available on Disney YouTube ahead of a two-part TV special featuring eight additional shorts, set to air on Disney Channel in the fall.

Which Badass “GLOW” Lady Are You?

Which Badass “GLOW” Lady Are You?

You got: Debbie Eagan, aka Liberty Belle

Honest, hard-working, and magnetic, you’re a natural star. You’re earnest and blunt to a fault, but you’ve got a dark streak that helps you stay a cut above the competition.

Debbie Eagan, aka Liberty Belle
Netflix

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You got: Cherry Bang, aka Junkchain

You’re dependable, talented, and have zero tolerance for nonsense. You have natural charisma, but you don’t mind taking a behind-the-scenes role if it’s for the good of the project.

Cherry Bang, aka Junkchain
Netflix

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You got: Carmen Wade, aka Machu Picchu

Talented but shy, you often have issues letting your star power shine through. You’re the classic reluctant hero, which is what makes you so irresistible on stage. You’ve got the goods — allow yourself to let go and live your best life.

Carmen Wade, aka Machu Picchu
Netflix

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You got: Sheila, aka Sheila the She Wolf

You march to the beat of your own drum. You need lots of alone time, but you recognize the power of traveling in a pack. You let very few into your inner circle, but you’re fiercely loyal once you do.

Sheila, aka Sheila the She Wolf
Netflix

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You got: Ruth Wilder, aka Zoya the Destroya

No one works harder than you do, and it shows. You put your mind to something and you achieve it, no matter the personal cost. You struggle with insecurity, but you throw your whole heart into your creative projects — even when you’re playing the villain.

Ruth Wilder, aka Zoya the Destroya
Netflix

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You got: Jenny Chey, aka Fortune Cookie

Your power is in your deceptive exterior. You’re a sweet and capable team player, but beneath that nice demeanor, you’re one twisted sister. You thrive when you’re in fast-paced, high-stakes situations — especially when you get to embrace your dark side.

Jenny Chey, aka Fortune Cookie
Netflix

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In The Best News Since 2014, Sandra Oh Is Returning To TV

Waller-Bridge, hot off the success of her Amazon show Fleabag, penned the eight-episode spy thriller for BBC America. According to the network, the show “centers on two women; Eve is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade security services operative whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfill her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle is an elegant, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her.” Oh will play Eve, and Villanelle is yet to be cast. Waller-Bridge will serve as showrunner and executive producer on the project.

Woody Allen Spoke At An Awards Ceremony For Diane Keaton And It Was Awkward

“[Woody Allen] can write women better than anyone,” Keaton said during the footage. Allen, the 81-year-old Hollywood icon, is a longtime collaborator and friend of Keaton’s. He’s made limited public appearances since 2014 when his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, wrote an open letter in the New York Times alleging Allen abused her as a child.