CREATED BY: Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch
STARRING: Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, Sydelle Noel, Britney Young, Kate Nash, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Chris Lowell, Kimmy Gatewood, Rebekka Johnson, Sunita Mani, Ellen Wong, Marianna Palka, Shakira Barrera, Bashir Salahuddin, Britt Baron, Geena Davis, Breeda Wool, Victory Quinaz, Kevin Cahoon, Nick Clifford and Toby Huss
The ladies of GLOW now reside in Las Vegas, headlining the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino and soon realise there’s much more grind than glitter in Sin City.
The third season of the Netflix comedy series sees the ladies of GLOW adapting to their new surroundings on the Vegas strip as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling headline at the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino. As Bash gets swamped by the glitz of Sin City, the ladies realise it’s more of a grind than they expected as their show repeats the same beats and moves every single night. Ruth’s passion for GLOW starts to take a backseat over her complicated personal life and while Debbie is embracing the role of producer, she continues to be consumed with guilt over being away from her son. As their residency wears on, the ladies and gentlemen find themselves struggling with their own identities both in and outside of the ring.
GLOW takes us out of the Los Angeles and into the glitz and bright lights of the Vegas strip, where the ladies are focused on having a good time as well as putting on a show, as is Sam directing it. It soon becomes apparent though that the show becomes mundane and feels more of a chore as they repeat the same storylines, moves etc. that they’ve done before from the previous seasons…but crammed into one night, every night. This leads to the series actually putting the wrestling side of things on the backdrop and focus instead on the characters either going through identity crisis or coming to a career crossroads.
The series has been anchored by the love-hate relationship between Ruth and Debbie and while this season they still have their moments of confiding and consoling each other, this season overall gives focus and development to characters that we might’ve only scratched the surface of in the last few seasons. The one that gets the biggest character journey arc is Gayle Rankin’s Sheila, as she comes to the epiphany of shredding her ‘She-Wolf’ skin and her transformation for me was one of the main highlights of the series, let alone the season, so far. The series has previously tip-toed on exploring the themes behind the stereotypes the ladies of colour portray in the ring on a daily basis and that comes to a head in back-to-back episodes Freaky Tuesday and Outward Bound, which also happen to me the strongest episodes this season. Another theme explored this season that is the driving force in a few storylines is sexuality. We have the relationship between Yolanda and Arthie, with Yolanda comfortable with being gay whilst Arthie is unsure about being labelled as ‘that word’, leading to them to explore aspects of where they stand and how they’re viewed by those around them. While we see Yolanda fully accepting her sexuality, Arthie exploring her own, Bash is fully denying his own sexuality as his spontaneous marriage to Rhonda at the end of season 2 is the slowest burn and payoff of the season. The two co-leads, Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin, are great once again as Ruth and Debbie. Gilpin in particular seems to get the better story-arcs this season in showcasing her range and there’s a particular moment in when she learns that her son has started to take his first steps and you notice the pain aching her entire body but maintains the same tone in her voice, I thought that was a powerful scene.
My main issue with this season is that there were certain storylines addressed but yet they were either resolved too quickly or just didn’t really go anywhere. There’s a eating disorder storyline that is showcased to us on one of the major characters and seems like it will be a primarily focus towards the end of the season as it builds up to it but yet it’s never really addressed afterwards and, hopefully, if the series gets a fourth season renewal they will address it otherwise it will feel weird on how that was handled overall. There’s also a gambling addiction arc that’s brought up and what would create some dramatic tension, it’s quickly brushed off with an easy resolution. Another storyline that feels like it gets too quick of a resolution is that one of the ladies is suffering from an ongoing back injury and tries to keep it on the down-low and ‘walk it off’ every night to the point that they’re brought to tears from muscle spasms. It is one of the more interesting storylines going in this season and yet it I found it to be to quickly wrapped up. For better or worse, depending on how you look at this season, with it being more heavily focused on the characters this time round there’s a sincere lack of wrestling showcased here which might be disappointing for some, but it feels like some of the characters are outgrowing their surroundings. It works for say Bash Howard, for example, because of his youth and amount of money behind him that he’ll be distracted by the gimmick acts and the glamour surrounding them in Vegas, but since he was the reason for bankrolling the project in the first place, it feels like some of the other characters are following suit. Sam Sylvia in particular feels like he’s coasting this season and while I love Marc Maron’s performance as the character, it feels like he’s come to an end in terms of the GLOW environment. I’m also surprised by how sparingly Geena Davis was used this season as Sandy Devereaux St Clair, I thought she would be given more to do even in a guest star capacity, but with the limited screentime she has she’s very good.
The wrestling in the ring is put into the backdrop as the repetition of doing the same show every night causes the ladies to become bored and underneath the glitz and glam of Vegas, start to assess where they are in their lives and what they hope to achieve. The performances from the ensemble are great, Gayle Rankin, Kia Stevens, Jackie Tohn, Ellen Wong, Sunita Mani and Shakira Barrera in particular get some good material to work with this season and knock it out of the part. Granted some of the storylines feel either too quickly resolved or not developed further, GLOW remains one of the most consistent shows around. 7/10