DISCLAIMER: This is not a spoiler-free review of GLOW Season 3. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Well, you know what they say: “What happens in Vegas is simultaneously viewed on a streaming juggernaut platform for all the world to see.” Or something to that affect. GLOW Season 3 took our Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling to Sin City. All the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas couldn’t soften the impact of this season, nor the variety of topics covered within. GLOW continues to lead the pack in broaching relevant subject matter with equal parts tact and brazenness. It’s a stark reminder that society, past and present, has been wrestling with these topics since time began. History does love repeating itself, after all. This season felt like having one foot in the past and the other in the present. We’re still battling gender equality as I type this.
Now, Debbie (Betty Gilpin) found herself, once again, fighting for equal standing among her male peers. Gilpin is the MVP this season, doling out an award-worthy performance as a multi-faceted human unleashing her inner strength. If you’ll recall, Debbie fought tooth and nail in Season 2 to snag the title of producer. She encountered her fair share of sexism along the way. Season 3 delivers a new crop of problems along with her position, such as maintaining her standing with Sam (Marc Maron) and Bash (Chris Lowell). Not to mention, ensuring Bash doesn’t pull the rug out from under her.
By season’s end, Debbie successfully teams up with Bash to steal a deal from her ex-boyfriend. She now has a TV network at her disposal. Debbie plans to make damn sure that women will march to the forefront of the entertainment industry. It’s a major success that should remind us to never succumb to our obstacles.
However, despite Gilpin’s pitch-perfect performance and her visceral delivery, I do have one gripe with her story line. We see Debbie forcing herself to vomit while struggling with self-image issues. But we never revisit this topic. Debbie’s eating disorder appears to be brushed under the rug. My hope is this can of worms is reopened in Season 4, as one simply doesn’t overcome an eating disorder over night.
Of course, if I had to pick a stand-out episode from GLOW Season 3 it would be, undoubtedly, “Outward Bound” (S03E06). The girls embark on a much-needed camping respite from the incessant wrestling matches. Truths are revealed and confessions are made. Ultimately, our ladies strengthen their bond. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ellen Wong‘s brilliant portrayal of Jenny and her subtly nuanced performance in Season 3.
Now, I’ve been wanting more Jenny material since Season 1, and thankfully GLOW did not disappoint. Melrose (Jackie Tohn) insensitively pretends to be Jenny’s character Fortune Cookie during a wrestling match. We see Jenny grapple with the ever-pervasive racism that exists even in her own friend. She tearfully reveals her journey to America during the aforementioned camping trip. Thankfully, we see Melrose learn from her mistakes. She too opens up about the anti-Semitism she’s faced in her life and family association with Jewish internment camps. Racism is, unfortunately, still prevalent in contemporary society. Tohn and Wong deliver gut-punching performances in this episode. We’ve always viewed Melrose as comedic relief, and it was lovely to see another side of her.
In addition, GLOW Season 3 tackled LGBTQIA+ issues and the brazen homophobia that existed in the ’80s. We were privy to Arthie (Sunita Mani) and Yolanda’s (Shakira Barrera) intimacy problems as a fledgling couple. GLOW, once again, handled the delicacy of intimacy with tact and grace. It was refreshing to watch a beautiful same-sex couple given their due on screen. They battled issues we’ve seen brewing between hetero couples time and time again. Not to mention, the ending to the Libertine Ball was heartbreaking. The blatantly poisonous homophobia displayed should remind us all that LGBTQIA+ are still being persecuted around the world. It was eye-opening, and “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush was the perfect accompaniment for said ending.
Of course, Bash’s own struggles with his sexuality come to a head this season when he has a threesome with his wife Rhonda (Kate Nash) and Melrose’s prostitute boyfriend. He feels trapped and unwilling to reconcile with his feelings. He cites that it’s safer for him to remain married to Rhonda. Bash is even ashamed of said feelings, trying his damnedest to keep them at bay. To this day, we still see members of the LGBTQIA+ community hating themselves for how they feel. It’s proof-positive of how the “hetero” mentality is ingrained in our society. This mentality is utterly heartbreaking and frustrating, and GLOW paints a visceral portrait of this fact.
Now, another story I adored was that of Sheila’s (Gayle Rankin) evolution. Her newfound passion for acting and shedding her She-Wolf image was so very important. GLOW has never shied away from urging us all to be our truest selves. Sheila realizing that her wolf image was merely a barrier was beautifully executed. In addition, Sydelle Noel‘s Cherry Bang encounters problems of her own in Season 3 after confessing to her husband Keith (Bashir Salahuddin) that she doesn’t want to get pregnant.
Not too long ago, it was considered “taboo” and shocking for a woman to be childless. How dare a woman desire a life without bearing children? However, with Cherry’s story, GLOW unleashes a clear and positive message. A woman isn’t less of a woman for not wanting to physically have kids. Moreover, a woman isn’t less of a woman for focusing on her career. Side note: Cherry’s reunion with Keith in the Christmas episode had me in tears. So touching.
Ruth (Alison Brie) continued her will-they-won’t-they tug-of-war with Sam in Season 3. Brie and Maron’s chemistry is electrifying and palpable – the slow build feels natural. At no point do we feel their relationship is forced. Of course, when Ruth discovers that Sam may have lured her to an LA audition under false pretenses, their potential relationship is back on the rocks. Frustrating, but a natural portrayal of relationships in my humble opinion. No courtship is ever glitzy and glamorous. GLOW is a bastion of reality as far as that is concerned. This series handles real topics with brutal honesty, but never without a pinch of humor and light.
Speaking of which, there’s still humor aplenty amid the darker moments. Melrose’s prostitute entanglement is laugh-out-loud worthy. Not to mention, Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson‘s biting one-liners as Stacey and Dawn. Never have bickering cronies been so hilarious. The costumes this season are, once again, enviable. Bold, colorful and brash. The quintessence of the 1980s. Also, if you dig ’80s music, this soundtrack is for you. GLOW adds more vintage tracks to its musical arsenal, so get ready to rock out like it’s 1986.
In short (well, more like long), GLOW Season 3 doesn’t disappoint. Nor does it hold back – it’s as big as the hairdos of the 1980s and as brazen as the clothing. GLOW Season 3 is as loud as the hair metal of the time, as fast as the parties and as punchy as the fights in the ring. No holds barred and all pedal to the metal. It grabs the bull by the horns and refuses to let go. Insert more “go big or go home” cliches here. GLOW Season 3 delves more into character development than its predecessors, and we fall head over heels for these ladies. This show is relevant now more than ever, packed to the brim with life lessons and messages of support for marginalized groups. If you haven’t already, binge it all on Netflix.
Final Grade: A-
GLOW Season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.
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