Netflix’s “Glamorous” enters the world of high-fashion and makeup artistry with a premise promising a glimpse into the complex lives of its characters. While the show initially appears to have the potential to explore the struggles and triumphs of its diverse cast, it ultimately falls short of convincing viewers like me, particularly when it comes to the portrayal of queer experience.
Shallow Character Development
One of the most striking issues with “Glamorous” is its superficial character development. Despite a myriad of life events and challenges thrown at them, the characters fail to convince viewers of the authenticity of their struggles. A prime example of this is the character of Marco, the show’s central figure.
Marco, portrayed as a talented makeup artist trying to make a name for themself in the fashion industry, is positioned as a queer character facing various challenges. However, the show’s approach to Marco’s life and struggles comes across as contrived and lacking in depth.
They’re picked by cosmetic mogul Madolyn (Kim Cattrall) herself to work as her assistant at “Glamorous by Madolyn.” That’s when the fortunes of the Gen Z character change. But, honestly, there’s little conviction despite Marco attempting to portray the “struggles” of their world. The premise looks promising but fails to carry it to the end effectively, at least in the first season.
At the heart of the issue is the absence of a nuanced exploration of Marco’s character. Rather than providing a well-rounded depiction of their experiences, “Glamorous” resorts to clichés and stereotypes. Marco’s journey as a queer individual in the fashion world should be an opportunity to delve into the complexities of identity, discrimination, and self-discovery. However, the show reduces their experiences to surface-level melodrama.
Superficial Queer Struggles
One of the glaring problems with the portrayal of queer struggles in “Glamorous” is the superficial treatment of these issues. Marco’s identity as a queer makeup artist should be a vehicle for exploring the challenges they face in both their personal and professional life. Unfortunately, the show’s execution lacks depth and authenticity.
Firstly, Marco’s struggles are often presented in an exaggerated manner that feels disconnected from real-life experiences. The conflicts and confrontations they encounter are so over-the-top that they become difficult to take seriously. This sensationalized approach undermines the credibility of the character and their journey. At times, it feels like the audience is watching a loooong Instagram reel that moves in all directions without getting into the actual plot! Marco doesn’t even come across as a person but as a brand in almost all episodes. They’re busy producing YouTube content (redundant now); they are all about the looks; they want a real job but is rarely seen working on the show (getting everyone coffee doesn’t count); their conflict with Chad (Madolyn’s son and director of sales) seems excessively superficial and completely unnecessary, which ultimately doesn’t go in any concrete direction.
Furthermore, the show fails to provide meaningful insights into the specific challenges faced by queer individuals in the fashion industry. While the industry has made some strides in promoting diversity and inclusivity, it is not without its issues of discrimination and prejudice. “Glamorous” could have addressed these issues with sensitivity and authenticity, but instead, it opts for drama that seems out of touch with the actual experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals working in the field.
Brands signaling support for the queer community is often reserved for Pride month and the show fell into that stereotype as well, despite trying hard not to do it. Support for the queer community in the purest sense stems from more than a month of rainbow banners and social media posts. Unfortunately, the show tries to monetize Pride Month to bring “Glamorous by Madolyn” back to life.
The Life of Marco
Marco’s character is at the center of “Glamorous,” but their portrayal and the way their life unfolds fail to convince viewers of the struggles faced by racialized queer individuals, especially in the context of the fashion industry. While we are told about their ambitions and aspirations, we don’t get a deep understanding of their fears, insecurities, or the emotional toll of navigating a predominantly white, heteronormative and appearance-focused industry.
Marco occasionally embodies stereotypes associated with gay men in media, such as flamboyance and dramatic behaviour. While there is diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, these stereotypes do a disservice to authentic representation by reducing queer individuals to caricatures.
Thankfully, other queer characters such as Venetia (played by Jade Payton) take a little more realistic approach when it comes to romantic problems, but her character also comes across as supremely superficial when navigating real work issues. Madolyn’s “ride or die” Venetia and Britt’s (Ayesha Harris) workplace romance is the healthiest, despite going through some ups and downs, and doesn’t fall into stereotypical tropes of queer romance (brownie points for that!).
The conflicts that Marco encounters often feel contrived and exaggerated. Whether it’s clashes with colleagues, romantic entanglements, or workplace drama, these situations are presented in a way that strains credibility and fails to resonate with real-life queer experiences.
The show misses the opportunity to delve into the intersectionality of Marco’s identity. Being a queer person of color in the fashion industry could have provided rich material for exploration, but this aspect remains underdeveloped.
“Glamorous” on Netflix, despite its promising premise, falls short of convincing viewers of the struggles and experiences of its characters, particularly when it comes to portraying the queer journey.
The lack of depth in character development, the reliance on stereotypes, and the superficial treatment of queer issues all contribute to a show that fails to authentically represent the lives of its characters.
To create meaningful and resonant storytelling, “Glamorous” should consider a more nuanced and authentic approach to its characters and their experiences, especially when addressing the challenges faced by queer individuals in the fashion industry. Perhaps, Season 2 of “Glamorous” could do better! We need real and relatable characters that evoke a sense of empathy. It’s not all about who’s dating who and who’s wearing what.
Though there’s a loud chatter on the internet that the show may not be renewed for Season 2 for failing to attract the audience, if Netflix decides to go ahead with another season, viewers like me would like to see more realistic issues and real-life approaches to resolving them. The show could fare better if the problems were relatable and the workplace is shown in a more realistic way – where people are not working out while trying to save the company. We would also love to see Marco and Ben coming together as a couple and having a healthy relationship!