GLOW Season 2 Review
SEASON ONE SPOILERS THROUGHOUT
Hey, I don’t normally do this but it is basically wrestling and it’s topical so here we are. GLOW, based loosely on the 1980s women’s promotion Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (where Tina Ferrari aka WWE Hall of Famer Ivory got her start), was a hit show for Netflix last year. Leading to a documentary about the actual promotion and this summer a second season.
Season one was mainly focused on Ruth (Alison Brie) and her best friend turned rival Debbie (Betty Gilpin) with an ensemble supporting cast of weird and wonderful characters, all loosely based on actual professional wrestlers from the 1980s GLOW promotion. I loved the first season and binge watched it like a pro. However I failed to notice that one of the central characters, Tamme, was actually played by a wrestler; Kia Stevens aka The Amazing Kong. Her acting was so convincing that I didn’t realise she was the wrestler. This series has clearly had a lot of hard work gone into the actual performing as all the women look decent in the ring.
We pick up where Season one finished with Ruth and Debbie still at odds with each other and Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) having to play the role of ‘bad guy’ overseeing all the action as the tyrannical director. A role that is somewhat fluid throughout the series. Season two goes into a lot more depth on the cast, with the basic set up already in place and many of ‘learning’ sequences now unnecessary. Justine (Britt Baron) has moved in with her dad and it’s softened his demeanour away from the TV cameras somewhat, and to a degree lessened his prolific abuse of cocaine and alcohol.
As the season continues each of the minor characters gets a little depth added. They have to deal with stardom, produce a PSA to appease the “Concerned Women of America”, and deal with the possibly of injuries. Kia Stevens shows some genuine acting chops in this season, moving on from the caricature she played in season one. The scenes with her son at Stanford are both heart-warming and funny. There’s a lot of play with the relationships between wrestlers briefly explored in the first season and everyone gets more to do.
At the end of Season one Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel) scored a job as a TV cop on another show so her spot as “Junkchain” is given to a local stripper called Yolanda (Shakira Barrera). This allows the group to explore what it means to be a GLOW wrestler and whether outsiders should be welcomed. The group have some interesting in-fights but ultimately become tighter knit and the show builds nicely to an unforgettable season finale.
Episode 8 “The Good Twin” is where the season peaks though. A literal episode of the GLOW TV show including dream sequences, music videos and goats. It is sublime. It’s also completely different to everything else around it and one of the best ‘gimmicked’ episodes of a TV show I’ve ever seen. I blew through this entire season in one day and it left me wanting more. The story is a goldmine and it is being mined beautifully by the show runners.
The use of 80s music has charmed me throughout but there is the odd anachronism within the wrestling itself. Prime example is Zoya the Destroya tapping out during a training match when all submissions were verbal until MMA gained popularity in the 1990s and Ken Shamrock was the first guy to introduce the concept to pro wrestling circa 1997. But for every minor mistake there’s a mass of 80s nostalgia, which is handled smartly. The guest directors include Lynn Shelton and John Cameron Mitchell and they successfully make episodes seem different while maintaining the overarching narratives and character interaction.
Another successful season that leaves you wanting more and promising big for the future. Intertwining stories loosely connected to the actual GLOW promotion but layering in friendships and issues between the central characters that make the matches and shows feel like an important part of the storyline but not a be-all and end-all. Already looking forward to Season 3.