Wrestling Reviews

GLOW Season Two – Review

Benjamin Clem sat down at watched the second season of GLOW, and gave his thoughts on the critically acclaimed Netflix series.

Photos © GLOW, Netflix

Before there was the term “Diva”, before there was a Revolution, and before there was an Evolution…there was the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

The Netflix hit is back and, dare I say, better than before. Season two hits the ground running and brings the action alongside some expected drama and comedy. If you were a fan of the first installment, then season two will not disappoint. Personally, this has been a favorite of my wife and I. The perfect combination of drama/story for her, and pro wrestling for yours truly. So, without too much more praise, let’s get started with reviewing this sucker. And I promise, I’ll try to keep spoilers to the bare minimum.

Season two picks up right where the first left off. G.L.O.W. has established their roster, crowned (literally) their first champion, and begun to grow in popularity amongst the die hard wrestling fan base of the 1980’s. However, the ladies are not at the top yet, and there are plenty of speed bumps in this season that attempt to slow their momentum. Several episodes focus on known hot topics such as prejudice, divorce, AIDS, and even the more recent #metoo movement. The new season consists of ten episodes in total, each with a run time of 26 to 46 minutes. Instead of giving a detailed rundown of every episode, I’ve decided to highlight my favorite five episodes and allow the rest of the show to speak for itself. Also, I’ll be pointing out some pro wrestling easter eggs that may have escaped the keen eye of some viewers. Let’s start with episode 4, “Mother of all Matches”.

Episode 4 revolves around an upcoming championship match between Tamme “The Welfare Queen” Dawson (played by former pro wrestler Kia Stevens) and Debbie “Liberty Belle” Eagan (portrayed by Betty Gilpin). As both ladies prepare for potentially the biggest match in G.L.O.W. so far, they find themselves dealing with personal challenges outside the ring as well. Debbie struggles with the changes caused by her recent divorce, going as far as to sell nearly everything in her home with the hope the memories of her failed marriage will go along with the items. Meanwhile, Tamme travels to Stanford University for parent’s weekend with her son Ernest. I love this episode because it shows off the amazing acting skills of Kia Stevens. The woman formerly known as Awesome Kong in TNA, and Kharma in WWE proves that she is an undeniable force on screen as well as in the ring. Considering the subject matter of the series, most would think casting a former wrestler in a role would be a given, but Kia obviously isn’t here just to make the in-ring action more believable. This episode touches on the decades old wrestling troupe of certain race driven characters seeming prejudice to the uninitiated. Ernest worries that his mother’s “Welfare Queen” gimmick may be an overly racist joke, and opts to travel back to Hollywood to see the show himself. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say it’s definitely heartwarming and sheds some light on the use of race based characters within pro wrestling. Moving right along to episode 5, “Perverts are People, Too”.

G.L.O.W. has found itself the victim of several set backs. Pulled sponsorship, a failed PSA, and general lack of viewership leads multiple members of the roster to seek other forms of revenue to keep the fledgling promotion afloat.

While many of the girls decide to create a meet-and-greet session after the show, Ruth “Zoya the Destroya” Wilder receives a dinner invitation from K-DTV president Tom Grant. This episode is where the writers chose to tap into the overwhelming recent “me too” movement. Alison Brie’s portrayal of Ruth lends exceptionally to the helplessness many real women have felt when thrown into these disturbing situations. Her innocence and general obliviousness only make the unwanted sexual advances even more frightening to witness. Remember how I mentioned the last episode’s heartwarming ending? Well, the dialogue between Ruth and Debbie at this episode’s end is heartbreaking. Prepare to hate Liberty Belle! And if you don’t by now, you certainly will by the end of episode 6, “Work the Leg”.

We’re in a tailspin now, folks! G.L.O.W. has been robbed of it’s time slot. Replaced by a more male centric wrestling show and moved to the undesirable 2 a.m. spot, tensions amongst the roster are at an all-time high. Show runners Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) and Sebastian “Bash” Howard (Chris Lowell) demand that the ladies step up their game in the hope of showing the K-DTV executives that G.L.O.W. is just as hard-hitting as it’s replacement. Allow me a quick moment to praise Chris Lowell’s spot on delivery of the Bash Howard character. There is no denying that Bash is directly inspired by real life G.L.O.W. founder David McLane. Seriously, google McLane and then watch any Bash scene, it’s pretty spooky seeing all the similarities! Moving on, this episode focuses mainly on two ongoing storylines. Sam’s human side emerging as he begins to show feelings for Ruth, and Debbie’s downward spiral as a result of her divorce taking its toll. Ruth and Debbie look to catch lightning in a bottle twice with a rematch of their Cold War encounter from last season, this time with disastrous results. No spoilers, but this ending is in my opinion the best cliffhanger of the series. Okay, enough of all this seriousness. Let’s have some fun with episode 8, “The Good Twin”.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to see an actual episode of the original G.L.O.W, this is the one for you. “The Good Twin” is a breakaway from the rest of the season, presented as closely as possible to the original straight-to-airwaves product. Complete with music videos, vignettes, and matches, this episode serves as an homage to the inspiration of the Netflix series. I’m not going to go deep into this one because I doubt I could do it any real justice. Take my word when I say, this is a must see. Last but not least, it’s episode 9, “Rosalie”.

The G.L.O.W. girls face the realization that the show may be over for good. As the final tapings draw closer, Debbie and Bash launch a whisper campaign hoping it will be enough to lure potential buyers. While fielding calls, Bash learns that his longtime friend, Florian, has passed away. The official cause of death is stated as being pneumonia, but it’s heavily implied that this is due to complications brought on by the AIDS virus. Throughout both seasons, Bash’s possible homosexuality has been touched on many times. This episode leans heavily on this, showing a visibly shaken Bash as he is forced to face the death of his friend/possible lover. Episode 9 is an emotional roller coaster. Several storylines are upended, leaving the viewer wondering what the season finale will have in store.

After watching the newest season, it should come as no surprise that Netflix has already green lit a third. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy GLOW, but there are plenty of nods to be noticed if you are. Season two includes gimmick changes for three of the women of the roster. The comedic tag team known as the “Beatdown Biddies” perform an in-ring transformation into Ozone and Nuke, the “Toxic Twins”. A very similar change happened in the original G.L.O.W. promotion when a young tag team switched their gimmick from two comedy based housewives to the “Heavy Metal Sisters”, Spike and Chainsaw. Then there’s Cherry Bang, trainer and pseudo den mother of the series. After leaving to pursue acting at the end of the first season, Cherry returns to find her “Junk Chain” gimmick now being used by G.L.O.W.’s newest talent, Yolanda. Taking this in stride, Cherry decides to create the voodoo queen gimmick known as “Black Magic”. This is an obvious reference to “Big Bad Momma”, a voodoo based character who also served as the den mother for the original ladies of G.L.O.W. The best easter egg overall has to be the cameo of Chavo Guerrero Jr. in the series finale. Chavo’s uncle Mando was the man responsible for training the women of G.L.O.W. back in the 80’s, so seeing a member of the legendary family step up to take part in the Netflix series is nothing less than heartwarming.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I can honestly say I would recommend this show to anyone looking for something new to watch. The unique balance of comedy, drama, action, and nostalgia makes this series a stand out amongst most original programs in this modern age of streaming.

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