TV Viewpoint: Glow and Stath Lets Flats

Considering the weather we’ve been having, and the urge to make the most of it while it lasts is strong, it’s likely that you’ve fallen behind in your TV schedule (except perhaps if you’re a slave to the World Cup). But regardless of the warm days and long evenings, it’s still nice to draw the curtains against the lingering sun, cuddle up under the atmospheric whir of the electric fan, sip on some cold brews and watch a heart-warming show about… womens’ wrestling.

Summer isn’t the typical time for long awaited series’ to return to our screens, but by now it’s fairly common knowledge that Netflix doesn’t play by the time tested rules. GLOW returned with all ten of its episodes on Friday last, and while I didn’t binge like I may have done under different, gloomier circumstances I did get through three episodes.

GLOW (Netflix)

For the un-initiated GLOW stands for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (bear with me), and stars Mad Men’s Alison Brie as the self-appointed leader of the group of women – mostly aspiring actresses – in 80s L.A. who have been recruited by a small television network to cash in on the era’s appetite for staged, theatrical wrestling, with the added extra and unique selling point of lithe ladies in spandex.

It’s a very smart, funny and self-aware TV series that takes on women’s rights, particularly in the workplace, friendship and relationships and the comradery that can only occur within a group who are all experiencing something new and alien together for the first time. While the last season largely focused on Brie’s character Ruth and her former best friend Debbie, this season expands further into the lives and circumstances of the other Gorgeous Ladies, giving rise to a further examination of race, sexuality and conflicting ambitions.

Debbie has wrangled herself a producing credit in her renewed contract, which means a brutal and dismissive initiation into the producer’s room, where lines, uttered in exultation such as “it is a miracle how much you can accomplish when you force people to work overtime” are not uncommon. The darkest moments are more often than not followed up by an expertly placed quip or visual gag, and while the subject matters addressed are taken seriously they happily avoid the preachy nature some shows can acquire in their second season. At bite-sized 30 minute episodes GLOW is easy to dip in and out of, but it’s hard not to get swept up in the comedy and drama.

If you’re looking for something even lighter and sillier, along the lines of The Office and following in the footsteps of other comedy series’ with a slightly surreal edge you might want to try Stath Lets Flats, the second episode of which airs tonight (Wednesday) at 10pm on Channel 4. Stath is the incompetent son of Greek immigrant Vasos, who has built up a successful-ish letting agency in London. Stath appears to have learned his sales skills from foreign YouTube videos put through the notoriously haphazard Google Translate, undertaking the irritating forced banter of the very inexperienced.

Stath Lets Flats (Channel 4)

I wasn’t expecting to find it as funny as I did. Creator Jason Demetriou also stars as Stath, and while finding the humour in dim-witted yet inexcusably confident estate agents he also takes on the Greek-Cypriot culture of North London, of which he is a part of. His real-life sister is on board too, playing Stath’s sister Sophie, similarily simple-minded yet a good deal more loveable, and the chemistry between the two goes a long way towards establishing the warmth and fondness for the culture that they’re gently poking fun at.

All sorts of slapstick scrapes tie the episodes together; a flying flipchart results in a gushing nosebleed followed by the futile search for a hospital, a viewing goes awry when the house alarm won’t cease and the thermostat, mistakenly believed to be the alarm control, is ripped out of the wall, a pigeon that has invaded one of the properties controlled by the agency is ejected from the flat by Stath like an evicted tenant refusing to leave; Stath to the bird: “Come back her sir… er, young lad.”

It’s in the Fawlty Tours school of silly, with some of the straight-men being almost as absurd as our imbecilic hero in their own way, and chuckling through it is a pleasant way to spend half an hour. The first episode is available on All 4.

  • First published in The Tuam Herald on 04.07.18

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