We miss GLOW, and think Netflix should have given it a final season. If you’re like us, you might want to check out a new Mexican dramedy involving female wrestlers, this time set in the world of lucha libre where anything is possible.
opening shot: Overhead footage of a working-class neighborhood in Mexico City. Then we switch to a woman receiving her possessions when she gets out of prison.
The essentials: Ángela (Caraly Sánchez) has just served a six-year sentence for drug possession, a charge she has consistently denied. One of the possessions she gets is a backpack with roses embroidered on it. She said she did not go in, and she insists she left the prison.
Her mother Victoria (Carmen Ramos) picks her up; She takes care of Ángela’s daughter Rocío (Alisson Santiago). Rocío, now 12, stopped visiting her mother a few years ago and isn’t really keen on getting back in touch. She’s not even home to greet her mother; she is with her father Lalo (Cuauhtli Jimenez) at “the fights”. Ángela goes to the local wrestling arena and sees the two cheering for a lucha libre wrestler named Dulce Caramelo (Scarlet Gruber). When Dulce wins her match, she dedicates it to her “daughter” Rocío.
Dulce is dating Lalo and she is linked to Rocío; It goes so far that Rocío smiles when she’s around Dulce and frowns in her mother’s presence. Dulce lobbyed Lalo to have him and Rocío move in with her, but he’s right to check with Ángela. For her part, Ángela recalls the time when her daughter was 6 years old and when the police searched her counterfeit t-shirt stand, the rose-embroidered backpack she grabbed was full of drugs. This memory is understandably bittersweet because that was the last time Ángela was close to her daughter.
Ángela gets a job at a bridal shop; The owner is dying to date Victoria, so he’s looking beyond Ángela’s prison sentence. Still, he keeps an eye on her; Ángela quickly becomes friends with the staff, which includes her former best friend Malena (María Balam). They gather around her as Lalo comes over and talks to her about Dulce wanting him and Rocío to move in with her.
Ángela takes on Dulce in an all-taker match; She holds her own because her dad used to be a Lucha Libre villain, so she knows quite a few moves. But ultimately Dulce beats her. But the arena’s owner tells Lalo to come back; She would make a great villain. But she and Rocío made a deal: Ángela will let Rocío keep going to the fights; Rocío never wants to see her mother in the ring again or she will move in with Dulce and her father. Fearing losing Rocío, she decides to train and become an anonymous wrestling villain with the help of her friend Refugio (Giovanna Zacarias).
What shows will it remind you of? Against the ropes (Original title: Contra las Cuerdas) definitely gives a similar feeling as GLOWespecially the fact that the ladies at the bridal shop will accompany Ángela in her wrestling training.
Our opinion: Against the ropes Ángela faces a complex problem right from the start: no one believes she shouldn’t have gone to jail, and she wants to find the person who owned the backpack. But at this point, she has to realize that a lot of it doesn’t matter, and she has to fix what’s broken with Rocío. So Ángela must rebuild her life and her relationship with her daughter while trying to clear her name.
Fernando Sariñana, the showrunner of the series, and the writing team did a good job of making that complexity clear without dragging the show. Even the first episode where the story begins has plenty of wrestling scenes for fans to enjoy, although it’s hard to watch Ángela keep getting rejected by her daughter.
One of the other things we appreciate is that Sariñana and company don’t go into too much advance notice of Ángela’s past; She has to deal with the here and now and the most important thing is to fix things with her daughter, so we see that.
What we’re looking forward to is seeing Ángela become “The Black Bride,” bring some friends, and try to challenge Dulce again. How she does it without Rocío knowing about it will be fun to watch too. And all of that is helped by the fact that Caraly Sánchez can act as well as pull off some killer moves.
gender and skin: None in the first episode.
farewell shot: Ángela fixes her father’s mask and then looks in the mirror with it, calling herself “The Black Bride” for the first time.
sleeping star: Alisson Santiago has a strong role as Rocío; The child is independent and knows that they are an emotional influence on their mother. But she can also share how hurt she is that her mother left her when she was little.
Most pilot line: Dulce actually threatens Lalo with a frying pan after defending Ángela’s right to participate in deciding where Rocío lives. What decade is this?
Our appeal: Stream it. Against the ropes builds a fun, heartwarming story that should have a lot of great wrestling at its core.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he doesn’t fool himself: He’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.