‘Glamorous’ series review: An unabashedly queer show that can’t pull itself free from its past

‘Glamorous’ emerges from its occasionally dated references, and self-congratulatory clap backs to provide the audience with a casual saccharine watch

Updated - June 25, 2023 07:34 pm IST

Published - June 25, 2023 04:59 pm IST

A still from ‘Glamorous’

A still from ‘Glamorous’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

A young credulous assistant clashing with an industry-towering snobby boss has formed a solid basis for many an entertainer. From Betty Suarez bumbling around in the early aughts to Ava Daniels figuring her way out in the post-Instagram comedy industry, the dynamic has elicited a loyal audience.

Queering this trusted TV narrative, Netflix’s latest show, Glamorous arrives amid Pride month, aiming to add its name to the list of summer binges. Severely anchoring itself in the beauty-anxious social media world, Glamorous positions itself as the sleek summer-child of its predecessors, however pales in comparison to those that it has been inspired by.

Marco Mejia (Miss Benny), who aims to make it big in the beauty influencer community, attracts the attention of Madolyn Addison (Kim Cattrall), the owner of a luxury makeup brand — ‘Glamorous by Madolyn’. Madolyn plucks Marco from his mall counter job and hires him as her second assistant. This is just one of the many fever-dream scenarios that form Marco’s life and the larger plot of this show. As Madolyn seeks to reinvent a brand that Marco once called bland, the new assistant learns the ropes of an adult job and his adult life.

Glamorous (English)
Creator: Jordon Nardino
Cast: Kim Cattrall, Miss Benny, Jade Payton, Zane Phillips, Michael Hsu Rosen, Ayesha Harris, and others
Episodes: 10
Runtime: 40-45 minutes
Storyline: Marco’s life is turned around when the owner of his favourite makeup brand hires him as an assistant, thrusting him into his first real job.

Their tale of star-crossed mentor-mentee is populated with a generous helping of love triangles, corporate sabotages, unresolved parental issues, several musical performances, and (not enough) drag sequences.

As far as its emotions are concerned, Glamorous wears its genre on its sleeve. It doesn’t betray a lightness that the audience expects, with a steady stream of pop music bookending its episodes. Marco speaks exclusively in a way that feels like he is reading off a YouTube video transcript, and all corners of the office of Glamorous by Madolyn are framed with a lens flare. Creator Jordon Nardino uses all the tools available to convince us of the show’s modernity, of how much shinier it looks than similar shows before it.

At the same time, he keeps a tight lid on the number of vulnerable moments the characters indulge in. Sometimes, it feels like we are watching a very long Instagram Story of their lives, the curated mask never falls. However, the show’s efforts to be a breezy comedy stacks up against itself.

In an attempt to rejuvenate her brand, Madolyn decides to launch a ‘Pride capsule’ collection. The idea is pitched by Marco and gladly accepted by Madolyn to set her apart in the luxury field. Despite receiving great reviews, she finds herself unsatisfied realising that she doesn’t want to do a Pride collection just to make sales during Pride month. She wants to convey a more concrete commitment to its history.

Glamorous finds itself in a similar conundrum. It is a show that walks in the comfortable shoes of tried and tested formula. But, with the unabashed and inherent queerness its characters embody, the heteronormative story choices it makes dilute this experience.

Nevertheless, in what can be described as a chirpier The Devil Wears Prada meets the New York version of The L Word, Glamourous is watchable in all that it does to honour those that came before it. The show emerges from its occasionally dated references, and self-congratulatory clapbacks to provide the audience with a casual saccharine watch.

Glamorous is now streaming on Netflix

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