I don’t want to spoil any of the spectacular, emotional, hilarious and fully realized second season of GLOW, the female-driven and powered Netflix original, SO I am just going to hit you with some of my thoughts on this season, some of the character arcs and personal highlights.
Alison Brie. If you were somehow living under a rock when a little show called Mad Men came out you missed Brie in one of her first truly scene-stealing roles. But she is a dizzying, anxiety ridden neurotic beast as Ruth in GLOW. Her tension with Marc Maron’s Sam is so, so good, their “will they or won’t they” relationship is delicious. But I love Ruth the most when she is finally still, either in triumph or in defeat, her eyes seem to grow impossibly wide, big blue orbs that express such sadness and uncertainty. The unfortunately always relevant, #MeToo moment was a decisive moment for Ruth. Brie, this season, underwent both emotional and physical challenges, and her scenes with Betty Gilpin’s Debbie are electric.
And speaking of Betty Gilpin. Good Lord she is this show’s MVP, albeit in a stacked set. The faces and expressions that Gilpin gives Debbie this season deserve their own reward. Her work is pretty much flawless all season (and mind-blowing) but her work in Mother of All Matches has got to be my favorite. Debbie is getting ready for her match against Tammé (Kia Stevens) and get’s a disturbing call from her soon to be ex-husbands secretary concerning the make of their bed. This prompts and all out yard sale in which she sells all her belongings. In the process of her emotional purging she makes a mistake concerning her son.
So, lets just talk about the fourth episode, “Mother of all Matches.” What makes this episode so special is the juxtaposition between Debbie as a mother and Tammé, or Welfare Queen, as a mother. Tammé is by-far one of the most fascinating characters within the GLOW tribe. Tammé has a had several jobs trying to provide for her family, including a seven-year stint in which she made airplane food. Her hard work does pay off, and her son receives a scholarship to Stanford as one of the few Martin Luther King scholars. Her pride in her family is so warmly shown, and the fact that she hasn’t told her son about her wrestling alter ego, points to the shame she may feel in that character. This episode is powerful and blunt. It does not shy away from comparing the life that Debbie has and the life that Tamme has. It puts the racial, economic, and stereotypical realities of being a southern belle vs. a welfare queen. It gets ugly, but it also gets real, and that is what made this episode the their performances so wonderful. It shows that no side of motherhood, or life by extension is perfect, but that biases run deep.
Finally, I cannot discuss stand-out episodes without episode 8: “The Good Twin.” This meta episode was a pure delight and helped cement GLOW as one of the most honest to god fun shows to watch so far in 2018. I don’t even want to say that much about the episode other than I actually want a spin-off of this exact show to happen. @ Netflix you listening?
As a little P.S I would like to talk about the mastery that creator Jenji Kohan (you might know her from little known shows like Weeds or Orange is the New Black) and the writing team, prominently featuring women writers such as Carly Mensch, Liz Flahive, and Rachel Shukert, have when it comes to peeling back the layers on a character’s back story and personality. Every stroke is perfect. The more we learn about these characters the more intriguing, the more insightful we become as audience members. It is done with timing that falls in line with intuition. We know Bash and his vulnerabilities, we understand Ruth’s neuroses, we understand Debbie’s defensiveness. The characters become so real, so tangible, so unbelievably written and directed that you find yourself cheering on as if to a live wrestling match.