Marc Maron on What It Was Like to Play a Sexist in ‘GLOW’: ‘It Felt Pretty Natural’

“Sexism… was a different tone in the ’80s,” actor and podcast star tells TheWrap

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Before you assume Marc Maron is a sexist pig — like his character on Netflix’s new dramedy “GLOW” — hear him out first.

The actor, comedian and podcast champ spoke to TheWrap about what it’s like to play a ladies wrestling director who is — let’s just say — not so woke when it comes to women’s lib.

“I think sexism, as bad as it is all the time, was a different tone in the ’80s,” he told TheWrap during the premiere for the series held at the Arclight Dome in Hollywood on Wednesday. “The cultural awareness around it is much different now because of women and what they’ve fought for and how they’ve expressed themselves in the cultural dialogue. So, like, being that guy or having those feelings as a character, it felt pretty natural. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it is what it is.”

Maron’s character, Sam Sylvia, oversees “GLOW,” encouraging the women to come off as sexy and stereotypical. Kia Stevens’ character Tamee is given the wrestling persona “Welfare Queen,” and she expresses her worries to Keith, the referee (Bashir Salahuddin), that Sam is encouraging racist stereotypes. “Sam is more sexist than racist,” Keith replies. That seems true: Sam tells the girls during casting that one deciding factor in the final cast is whether or not he likes their face.

Maron said that in the ’80s, that was more normal. “Movies from that period or TV from that period — the way they talked and the way they behaved, you weren’t sitting there going like, ‘oh my god, what is wrong with that guy?’” he said. Sexism is “still here now, believe me,” he added.

Being one of only a few men in the cast, Maron found it hard to sexualize the women in real life the way his character does. “Your brain, as a man, generally tries to sexualize, but very quickly I had such respect and appreciation for what everybody was doing that it became not about that — ever… It was a unique experience,” he told TheWrap.

Sam has a special relationship with Alison Brie’s character Ruth. Both Sam and Ruth come to “GLOW” as a kind of last resort, but find throughout the season how important it is to them to make the women’s wrestling league succeed.

“[Sam] and Ruth evolve a relationship because they’re both sort of desperate and they both realize that they really want this to work, and they both realize that they respect each other, and they’re going to do it together,” said Maron. “And it’s not a sexual relationship… It’s subtly sweet but it’s intense. It’s good.”

“GLOW” is available to stream on Netflix June 23.