They’re back ladies and gentlemen: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling! They’re taking names! They’re making moves! They’re taking the ring by storm! It’s GLOW!
Netflix’s cult hit comedy “GLOW” is back for a second season after pleasantly surprising some with its first. The story picks up right where last season left off, with the ladies of GLOW riding the high of their show getting picked up and being week to week. However, things aren’t quite as glamorous as they seem when some setbacks come their way and much of the drama that began unfolding in Season One hits new heights.
Fortunately, however, the show doesn’t sacrifice it’s tongue-in-cheek nature and clever jokes for purposes of being melodramatic, unlike some of Netflix’s other “comedies.” (Cough — “Orange is the New Black” — cough.)
The characterizations and storylines are stronger than ever in this season. Ruth (Allison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) are still working through their sordid history while the others girls are each working on their own personal journeys. Some of the stronger side stories this season are those of the likes of Tamme (Kia Stevens), who is working to comes to terms with the caricature of her wrestling persona “The Welfare Queen” and the budding relationship between Arthie (Sunita Mani) and a new member of GLOW, Yolanda (Shakira Barrera). All of these performances were top-notch and nuanced. These stories helped flesh out the characters and bring the culture revelations of the ’80s setting to life.
While Ruth and Debbie’s relationship in and out of the ring was compelling and dynamic, Ruth was handling a lot this time around. This season saw a lot maturity in her character and her character’s relationship with Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), the creator of the GLOW. In the first season, Sam, and many of the characters, honestly felt somewhat flat and one-dimensional to a point of annoyance. This time, however, Sam is given a lot of room to develop and become a more well-rounded sympathetic character. Their dynamic is fun and interesting and brings a lot to the show.
Another surprise was the depth brought to Bash’s (Chris Lowell) character. I won’t go into too many details but they delve more into his past and humanize him a lot. He has a storyline that taps into some tragic events that were transpiring in the ’80s, which is subtle yet powerful. Lowell gives a great performance and ended up making me care for a character I felt was more a bit part following the conclusion of Season One.
Overall it felt like the show more clearly knew what it wanted to be in its second season. The first felt somewhat confused, which made it fall just short of the greatness it could have achieved. The production quality felt higher, the writing felt stronger in both the dramatic and comedic aspects of the show. Characters like Sheila the She-Wolf (Gayle Rankin) and Melanie (Jackie Tohn) were given more opportunities to flaunt their comedic chops, and the show had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions.
The ’80s aesthetic is still as strong and as present as ever. The costuming is bright and neon and it comes second in my mind only to “Stranger Things” as feeling like a true time capsule from that era. The synthy soundtrack is fun and interesting and the whole show just exudes ’80s. The show manages to tackle some deep issues, especially relevant today in the wake of movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “#MeToo.” However, the show never feels like its going out of its way and breaking out of the era to tackle these issues we still face.
Episode 8, “The Good Twin,” goes so far as to stand alone as a whole episode of the show within a show. The episode is entirely stylized to feel as though the viewer has popped a VCR into a player and hooked it up to the television. Some people were disappointed by this episode because it didn’t “advance the plot” but I thought it was a fun look at exactly what all the hype is about. It was a chance for the actors to have fun and live out what their characters live out. It helps us as an audience further appreciate why the characters are so passionate about what they’re doing.
In conclusion, the show surpasses its first season in almost every way and has quickly become one of the best that Netflix has to offer.