A sitcom about the 1980s-era Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is so logical as to be a foregone conclusion. The only question: How big is the hair? “Huge,” says GLOW star Betty Gilpin, whose mane in the show is actually on the more demure side. “Think ‘Teri Garr in Tootsie’ puffy. I avoided the full perm.”
The new Netflix series stars Gilpin as Debbie Eagan, a failed Los Angeles soap star who discovers a second career on the mat, alongside Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men). “It’s stupid-fun,” says the 30-year-old actress. “My background is in theater, where you’re allowed to be as ugly and scary as you want. But when you’re a girl on camera, you have to be small and pretty and subtle. Wrestling is the opposite of that. Wrestling is theater.”
Bonus: She did some of her own stunts. “We do it all,” says Gilpin. “They spray-tanned me because they wanted me to be a California girl, and my tan got darker and darker as the show went on because it was so difficult to cover up all of my bruises.”
But amid the headlocks and body-blocking is the intriguing rapport between Debbie and her competitor Ruth (Brie). “You can share a cavewoman-level connection, but the circumstances of your lives may not line up for you to be friends,” Gilpin says. “That’s kind of what happens with them.” Given the scarcity of complex female relationships on television, Gilpin was eager to jump in the ring. “They’re usually portrayed as backstabby, on a Bravo TV level,” she says. “And even though I love me some Bravo, there’s more to be mined there.”
Photography: Greg Vaughan
Styling: Michael Cook
Hair & Makeup: Angela DiCarlo
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