The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is back, the 80’s fashion, hair and bright neon returns for a second season of the smash hit Netflix show about a wrestling show comprised entirely of women. Betty Gilpin, Alison Brie and Marc Maron returns as the central characters of the show. The first season was a great hit by the online streaming service, would they be able to replicate that success?
After being offered a Saturday morning time slot by KD-TV, the women have to up their game to present a television show. This creates friction between the women. Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) are still not talking to each other after Ruth slept with Debbie’s husband and ruined their marriage. Sam (Marc Maron) has the continued pressure of directing the show and being the father figure of his daughter. Along with issues with the network, issues with the fans. The show is under huge pressure and questions arise on whether it would be able to survive on television.
GLOW was a surprise hit for me, a fan of wrestling, usually fictitious representations of wrestling are exaggerated and goofy but GLOW had a gentle respect for the artform. It did not make fun of wrestling but uses it as a platform for intriguing character development. At the end of season one, the show was doing great but the inside conflict between the women was not settled. Season 2 had the opportunity to rectify this.
The second season kicks off with the cast filming the pilot episode for KD-TV and we already see fractures in some of the women. Betty Gilpin’s character Debbie is struggling with the aftermath of her marriage breakup and dealing with being alone. Ruth also has a falling out with the director, Sam, with her trying involve herself with the show more. There is also a new character in Yolanda (Shakira Barrera) a stripper that Sam met, she replaces Cherry’s character from the first season as Junk Chain. Cherry is busying being a lead actor in cop TV show. Her introduction creates some drama between the girls.
(Netflix, Liberty Belle fighting Welfare Queen)
The second season starts of quite slow with a retread on the first season issues, we still get the same coldness between Ruth and Debbie and general tomfoolery between the girls and Sam struggling with directing the show. This retread does make the beginning of the season a bit of a struggle. However, like some tight fitting spandex, the first few moments may seem a struggle to fit but when they are in, they look good. Well for the 80’s, Spandex looked good. GLOW starts to pick up pace when it gets away from the first season’s issues and focuses on much more in-depth character developments.
The characters are key to the success of GLOW. GLOW uses wrestling like Rocky uses boxing. Rocky is not a boxing film. It is a harrowing tale of someone trying to escape a poverty stricken town, a rags to riches story, boxing acts as a platform of that story. In GLOW, wrestling is that platform but it is surrounded by interesting, complex characters. The episode that focuses on Tamme ‘Welfare Queen’ Dawson (Kia Stevens) struggling to tell her son what she does for a living is one of the hard hitting moments that this show decides to throw at you. The questionable stereotype of an African American being portrayed as a race that only relies on benefits is hard to watch and to see her son find out the hard way was breathtaking. It was horrible to watch but a fantastic piece of social commentary.
Debbie’s journey through the series is also another brutal look at single motherhood, we as a viewer watch this character crumble under the weight of producing a show, looking after a baby and maintain her own sanity. It is a brilliant contrast of character, as in the wrestling show she plays the central babyface character but outside the ring, she has a heel persona. Her character balances the tightrope of justifiable self-destruction with pure venomous actions. Betty Gilpin’s performance is brilliant as she portrays a strong willed woman that has an underlying frailty to her demeanor. As the audience we should sympathise with the character because she was the one that was cheated on but there are moments within the season that questions her innocence.
Marc Maron’s character, Sam, is by far my favourite in the series. As the director, he must maintain a cold, emotionless persona but as he delves deeper into the role of being a father some cracks start to appear. Some of the best moments of the show involve Sam dealing with directing the show and trying to be a father. His character is the most gravitating and is a an amazing performance by Maron that packs a deep emotional response that does not overdo it. The character is the standout of both seasons and this is credit to Marc Maron.
(Netflix, Liberty Belle and Zoya wrestle each other again in season two)
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling may be considered a goofy, comical wrestling show but around it, is a fantastic representation of social issues. GLOW season two tackles LGBT issues, racial stereotypes, the AIDS pandemic and even a comment on the recent #MeToo movement. Episode 8 is also one of the greatest episodes ever from a TV Show. It is GLOW’s version of Game of Thrones, ‘Battle of The Bastards’. GLOW is a wonderfully written and directed show that is able to balanced the goofy nature of the show with hard hitting and stark social commentaries.
There are some flaws with the show, with the big cast, a lot of the secondary characters had their screen time and purpose reduced. We have had so much focus on Betty, Sam and Ruth it would of been nice to see other girls get some focus. We get some littering of issues between the girls but it doesn’t really materialise into anything. Hopefully with the promise of future seasons this could be rectified. Also some issues were quickly resolved and forgotten about and I hope some of these issues are revisited, such as the representation of ‘Beirut the Mad Bomber’ (Sunita Mani) a terrible representation of an indian women being a terrorist.
GLOW is a beautifully colourful show that has the nostalgic 80’s aesthetic wonderfully produced. It has really interesting characters, relevant issues about social injustices, a brilliant soundtrack and engaging stories. Season two leaves the path open for more adventures between the ladies. The show is fun, engaging and deeply impactful. GLOW is packed of a talented and fantastic cast and crew, season two shows a growth that demonstrates promise for future seasons. I cannot wait to see more adventures from the brilliant Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Rating – ★★★★