Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan has a knack for turning the misfits into the cool kids. And she's at it again, perhaps even amping it up a notch, with her new Netflix comedy GLOW, premiering June 23. A remake of the unscripted '80s show, short for gorgeous ladies of wrestling, the show portrays a dynamic, completely diverse group of women who openly talk about things like tampons, because it gets that real. At the LA premiere, the cast tells me how their real-life misfit qualities, like being outsiders, weirdos, working moms, eccentric, untraditional, bra haters, having underarm hair, and enjoying pies to the face, made their characters and comradery so much richer.
Marc Maron, who plays washed-up Hollywood director Sam, explains it perfectly. "Look at them, they're all oddballs. Every one of them is this unique thing, none of them are alike," he tells me. "None of them are like anybody I've ever met." The women describe their characters as: heavy metal fans, "girls who will flash the band, but the band doesn't give a sh*t about their tits," a struggling med school student, the youngest of women, a fish out of water, and delusional hair dressers, just to name a few. In addition to Orange, this may be the most badass group of misfits TV has ever seen.
"With the exception of Orange, have there ever been 15 women in one show?" says Jackie Tohn (Melrose). "This time, there's room for so many women and we were all able to shine." Not only does the series showcase a beautifully diverse female ensemble, but the women agree that one woman isn't remotely like the other, both on and off screen.
"Our personalities off screen are so different, that somehow it comes together and we're all so close," says Rebekka Johnson, who plays Dawn. Not only are the characters unique individuals, but they each shine in their own way. "Everyone is also hilarious, even people who aren't known for comedy," she says. Another Kohan specialty if you ask me.
And beyond kooky, off-camera dialogue that made its way onto the show (hence, the tampon talk), show creators pulled inspiration from the actors to make the characters as authentic as possible. Indian actor Sunita Mani, who plays Arthie, explains some of her personal crossover. "In 1985, there aren't many Indian women playing outside of stereotypes, so she understands her lot and is trying to grow within that," she says. "I also feel like I have a lot of mysterious gender identity sometimes, and it plays to my advantage." And that's just one example.
Although the women of show are clearly all so different both inside and out, those differences are what made them bond so strongly as a group. "The fact that we fell in love with each other so quickly comes through and that's really fun to watch, women being supportive and not antagonistic," Mani says. Britt Baron, who plays Justine, agrees, "I've never felt such a bond with a group of women and we're completely different. It's beautiful."
Orange fans may also love how the GLOW women ultimately use their differences to work together for the same outcome. "We're a bunch of misfits who found our weird spot in the world. They all want something and it's the same thing: to be on this television show," says Kimmy Gatewood (Stacey). "They all come together so it's very positive."
One of the few male actors of the cast, Chris Lowell, who plays Bash, admires Kohan's ability to make audiences envy such a range of outcasts. "It's so badass, they're f*cking wrestling. And owning it," he says. "Seeing them fight and burp and fart and laugh and tell jokes and be rude, it's just nice. It's fun and real."
Star Alison Brie (Ruth) bursts with pride for this very reason. "For me, this was the role of a lifetime," she says. "I'm so proud of the work I've done here... I'd put it right at the top."
Leave it to Kohan and her squad to make misfits the norm, and the norm flat-out boring. I'm already feeling the fomo from this crew.