'GLOW' Showrunners on Their "Baller Mom Moment"

GLOW S01E01 Still_1_embed - Publicity - EMBED 2018
Erica Parise/Netflix

Brie (left) and Gilpin play ex-friends turned wrestlers.

Self-proclaimed underdogs Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch are basking in 10 nominations and being one of the only female-dominated shows among nominees: "We're standing on the shoulders of a lot of other women and a lot of other shows."

True to the spirit ?of their show about pioneering female wrestlers, GLOW showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch approached the announcement of Emmy nominations July 12 assuming they'd get shut out. "We're just such an underdog show," Mensch explains. "GLOW is a show about underdogs. We're just starting to get some attention now." But the pair were rewarded for their pessimism with 10 nominations for the show's debut run (season two dropped on Netflix on June 29), including one for comedy series and a supporting actress nod for Betty Gilpin. The haul contributed to helping Netflix topple HBO from its 18-year perch as the most nominated outlet.

Mensch and Flahive talked about the "baller mom moment" of hearing their show cited 10 times, what the wrestling community thinks of GLOW and how they'll have "no shame" at all those Emmy afterparties.

How unexpected were the ?10 nominations?

LIZ FLAHIVE We were both having a baller mom moment. I was ?putting sunscreen on my daughter and trying to get her ready ?for camp. And then I FaceTimed Carly, and our kids basically ?made faces at each other while I tried to tell her who got nominated.

CARLY MENSCH My kids didn't have ?any clue what was happening ?and just wanted the stroller to keep moving.

How do you feel about Betty Gilpin's recognition?

MENSCH She is so fucking phenomenal — with meeting her character, Debbie, and watching the mask she puts on. And then watching her true anger come out and watching her step into herself and into her body was thrilling.

FLAHIVE The relationship that she and Alison Brie play together is one of the joys of writing this show — having this female friendship that is so fractured being played by two actresses who are deeply friends. We've known Betty for a while from our days in New York together, so it's pretty great to see.

You aren't the only female-led or female-dominated show in the category. Are you seeing a shift?

FLAHIVE If you have more female showrunners and more female creators, you're going to have more female stories. Many of them are going to be very good, and hopefully that will result in moments like this.

MENSCH We're standing on the shoulders of a lot of other women and a lot of other shows, like [GLOW co-excecutive producer] Jenji Kohan, whose Orange Is the New Black has been nominated in the past, and Tina Fey, who ?is also in our category. There is a change happening, but I also think there was a change. There are some women who have been paving the way for a while and we're benefiting from that work. We're grateful to be a part of this movement.

What's the most unexpected response you've gotten?

MENSCH The most surprising and the thing that felt the most meaningful was the response of the wrestling community. We wrote the show [to be] respectful toward them but didn't know how they would receive it. Their support that we honored the form and period wrestling was gratifying.

There ought to be an Emmy category for …

FLAHIVE Our line producer is so phenomenal. I feel like a separate line producer category would be pretty great.

MENSCH The separation of the show categories into comedy ?and drama is tricky. I don't really have a fix, but I know that there ?are a lot of shows that live in both.

Who would you most like to chat ?up at Emmy parties?

FLAHIVE I can do a whole list!

MENSCH We're geeks. We definitely have no shame.

FLAHIVE Edie Falco and Merritt Wever are both nominated, to get to see them and Betty all together at an awards show is pretty awesome. We are going to have zero chill. There's going to ?be a lot of walking up to the Queer Eye guys and needing to talk about some of those episodes. Ideally, I'll get to stalk Phoebe Waller-Bridge for a minute.

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REAL-WORLD ACTION:

Not only is her show dealing with current events (such as a Weinstein-inspired storyline in season two), but GLOW co-showrunner Liz Flahive also has been involved in political action, recently stepping in to help reunite parents and children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Flahive teamed with Immigrant Families Together (a nationwide group formed in response to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy) to coordinate a cross-country driver for one mother's trip from Arizona to Miami and also helped with fundraising efforts by connecting Tony-nominated producer Brian Swibel (Xanadu, ?An American in Paris) to the cause. "I think like many other people, I've been trying to find a way to do more," says Flahive, who is a mother of ?two. "The issue of family separation at the border feels extremely personal." Swibel's donation helped that same mother to be released from detention and reunited with her children in Miami.

WHAT THR'S CRITIC SAID:

"GLOW has superficial similarities to Orange Is the New Black in its excellent, multicultural female-driven ensemble — and deeper similarities in the way it uses a traditionally male space to explore women trying to break from prescribed gender roles and find an individuality that goes beyond stereotypes. GLOW is sometimes funny, sometimes emotional and anchored by a strong, ego-free performance by Alison Brie, improving across the full 10-episode first season." — Daniel J. Fienberg, April 16, 2017

ODDS ARE …

If time is on the side of any Emmy comedy, it's GLOW. With the arrival of its second season coinciding with Emmy voting, Netflix has blanketed Los Angeles (where most Emmy voters live) with neon propaganda for months. The show's presence is unavoidable. Its female-driven storytelling is uncannily primed for the first Emmy Awards of the #MeToo era. And the TV Academy's snub of Alison Brie, absent in the best actress race, noticeably rankled critics. The series could be awarded for the sum of its efforts, though a supporting actress win for breakout Betty Gilpin seems more likely. But, as always, don't discount the ambition of Netflix. The scuttlebutt is that GLOW is far from a top performer for the streamer, and potential kudos are said to be a major motivator in Netflix's ongoing commitment to the series — as evidenced by its massive marketing push. — Michael O'Connell

This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.