Netflix’s dramatic comedy, GLOW, is scheduled to release its second season this Friday, June 29th. Since last summer’s release of Season One, the show received multiple nominations at last year’s Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Critic’s Choice Awards. It also scored an uncommonly high approval rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in the mid 80s, GLOW tells the story of a televised women’s wrestling league, Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. The series follows these characters as they balance their lives both in and out of the ring. The characters are interesting and different, the writing is smart and it’s a lot of fun. I recently rewatched the first season and have high expectations for Season Two.
The series follows Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie), a struggling actress who can’t seem to book a job or pay her rent but always manages to pay for her acting classes. She’s a pretty pitiful person and her overcommitment to her craft is irritating but it’s in these moments that Alison Brie shines. Now she is also excellent in showcasing Ruth’s vulnerabilities but personally I really enjoy her when she’s emboding her wrestling persona, “Zoya the Destroyer”. Her best friend, Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin) is her emotional support, a former soap opera actress and married with a new baby. Ruth and Debbie’s friendship takes a dramatic turn when Debbie learns of Ruth’s affair with Debbie’s husband, Mark (Rich Sommer). Through a series of events both women are cast in a new television show and they are forced to use their real-life issues to inspire their wrestling storyline. This is part of the reason I was really into. The writers and creators used wrestling as a sort of plot device. Through the storyline of “Zoya the Destroyer” and Debbie’s “Liberty Belle”, it clearly establishes the good versus evil. “Liberty Belle” an all-American sweetheart is the clear babyface as is Debbie. Then you have “Zoya the Destroyer” who you can’t help but hate, in true Ruth fashion she’s fully committed to this trash talking communist from the Soviet Union. I would watch these two in a match on the next WWE pay-per-view, they are so much fun. Ruth and Debbie, as well as their in-ring characters, are bound to have a large arc in this series.
A constant in Season One is Ruth working to win over the director, Sam Sylvia played fantastically by Marc Maron. He’s a brutally honest, underachieving filmmaker looking for a way to fund his next project. Marc Maron embodies Sam so well that I can practically smell the cigarette smoke every time he appears. He’s a bit rough around the edges however the more time we spend with him it’s obvious he has a heart and truly cares about the success of their show. From the first episode the two of them seem to have a special sort of connection that goes beyond a boss/employee relationship.They build a solid friendship (he supports Ruth during an abortion, she validates his vision for the show) and I didn’t expect to become invested in their relationship. I think this has potential to move in an interesting direction.
Throughout the season we spend more time with the women and learn more about them and their wrestling personas. Again this is a really smart way to tell a story with some interesting characters. Watching the women train together and live together creates a sense of unity as they collectively go through this experience, bringing a real campiness to the show. Within these episodes we find out more about Sheila “the She Wolf” (Gayle Rankin), a fellow wrestler who dresses herself as if she were a wolf even outside of the ring. I liked how this is addressed in her conversation with Ruth. After explaining that she made this decision to start dressing like this, the women moved on from it and she’s welcomed as one of their own. Carmen Wade “Machu Picchu” (Britney Young) is the only daughter in a family full of wrestlers and I have a feeling she’s going to play an important role in the future. I love that she’s working to make her mark on the world of wrestling, meanwhile she is crippled with performance anxiety. Other than Ruth and Debbie, these two women are the only ones that I’m really invested in. As a wrestling fan I was more invested in the progression of some of their wrestling personas than anything else. There just doesn’t seem to be much to the rest them.
GLOW does a great job creating characters which in turn generate an interesting story. I’m invested in these characters, I care about them and their relationships with each other. With such a large group of characters, there’s a lot of different directions that the creators could take this and I’m along for the ride.
4 out of 5 Stars
Cast: Alison Brie, Marc Maron, Betty Gilpin, Britney Young, Sydelle Noel, Kate Nash, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Rich Sommer & Sunita Mani Crew: Executive Producers - Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Tara Herrmann & Jenji Kohan Image Credit: Netflix