If you haven’t found a chance to check out this amazing show on Netflix, you are missing out on a hilarious, perm-filled journey of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling on GLOW! Hesitant at first, although a show with the story of an odd group of women in the 1980s joining a wrestling television promotion should be up my alley, I reluctantly sat on my chaise with arms crossed, waiting to be disappointed. And I was wrong, of course! As I binged watched the season, trying to decide which character was worthy of the monthly feature, I ended up choosing the lead – the most annoying character of all, Ruth Wilder, AKA Kuntar, AKA Zoya The Destroya.
Character Basics: My first thought was – is that Kristen Wiig? Why does she look like her? Is it her cousin? It’s actually Alison Brie and her character as Ruth Wilder: failed actress barely making ends meet in a cold and harsh world.
Job: Aspiring but out of work actress turned female wrestler
Appearance: Kristen Wiig-looking brunette with an extremely slim figure, buggy eyes and how Sam Sylvia (played by the hilarious Marc Maron) views her:
Summary: Ruth is extremely annoying and selfish which stems from her deep seeded insecurities in her romantic and career shortcomings. She spends a good amount of time pushing her small acting roles (with August Strindberg of course) to the group as if she was a gem yet to be found for the next big film. Despite trying to be liked, her actions and general ‘I’m better than everyone else’ attitude do just the opposite, making the other wrestlers dislike her. However, she overcomes this, forcefully in many ways throughout the show including facing her best friend Debbie Eagan, whose husband she slept with. This makes her stronger and much more likable in the end and she is a huge part of keeping GLOW alive.
Relevance to plot
Ruth is one of the main protagonists who after losing another acting gig (or barely being considered in the first place) finds her way to the dim and dirty gym for a casting call. Although the gig seems sketchy at best, she remains, even when fired because at this point, she has nothing to lose. Then it happens: the confrontation with Debbie, mother of 1, about the canoodling and they duke it out slightly in the ring, only to expose Ruth’s embarrassing inexperience. However, this turns out better than Ruth could hope for since it exposes a storyline Sam, GLOW director, can exploit. It doesn’t hurt Debbie is a former soap opera star.
Ruth grows a lot through season 1 from feeling overwhelmed by her insecurities, conflicting artistic differences, and failures shown in the opening pilot to inspiring the other wrestlers. And finally realizing that although she’s the villain, someone needs to fill the role. Literally before her final character was born as the Russian ‘Zoya The Destroyer,’ she is the Wrath of Kuntar in one episode when not being called Homewrecker! The low-point of her actions is the betrayal to Debbie and the scene when the affair is revealed is an intense moment in the season. Ruth made it almost impossible to like her, but somehow she won me over through all of her faults and setbacks. The best part of all, her attitude changes, even if she is still disliked by some – which is attributed not only to her effort but the different groups of people who she surrounded herself with – the Russian birthday party guests, the GLOW wrestlers, drugged up producer Sebastian and his robot, the sad but necessary for morals motel attendant and Debbie’s A-hole husband. Exposed to other characters and accepting the relationships they share, rounded Ruth.
Why she needs to be celebrated
Ruth needs to be celebrated because she takes a complete 180 on who she was–shedding her insecurities, rolling with the punches despite what comes her way, and, most importantly, she is hardly absolved of all her sins and tragedies. She messed up and she knows and accepts it and although hoping some time will heal all wounds, it’s simply not enough time (maybe in season 2?). At least by the end of season one, she’s come to terms with her villainy and put others before herself, making sure the show goes on and it’s going to kick some serious ass!
What Writers Can Learn
Your main character can be disliked, as long as there is some silver lining somewhere. Be sure there is a point of growth and perhaps humor. Not every shortcoming has to be dramatic. How Sam treats Ruth is a great example of how you can dislike someone while they are struggling to keep afloat but then a second later, turn the tragedy into a joke.