The second season of Netflix’s series about the 1980s women’s wrestling promotion may have been even better than the first!
Last year, after the announcement the Netflix was picking up GLOW for a second season, I wrote about why I thought that was a BAD IDEA. Mostly, I thought, the show did maybe too good a job wrapping up the season and giving viewers what they would have wanted throughout the season. Having their show picked up by a local channel, it seemed the chase was over. So what was there to accomplish with a second season?
Of course, in professional wrestling, there’s always another chase – something to build to for that big match to draw in fans. So it is with season 2 of GLOW.
I’m certainly pleased that I didn’t bail on the show just because I thought the show’s first season wrapped things up nicely. The second season was, I thought, even better than the first. With its sophomore effort, the show had the advantage of its established characters. As I mentioned last year, I had trouble getting into the first few episodes of the show, because no one was likable, but they won me over at the end. This time around, we already knew the personality quirks of the returning cast, and we knew who to cheer for and who to boo.
The main arc of the second season continues to be the GLOW television show, which gets moved from a 10 am weekend time slot to 2 am after Ruth (Alison Brie) passes on sleeping with a network executive. Ruth spends a few episodes harboring the secret, only letting former best friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin) know what’s going on. The secret doesn’t bring the two closer. In fact, it builds more resentment within Debbie, still pissed at Ruth for sleeping with her husband in the first season.
The tension between Ruth and Debbie builds to a pretty gruesome climax in the back half of the season where, in the middle of match between their alter egos Zoya the Destroyer and Liberty Belle, Debbie breaks Ruth’s leg. The confrontation between Debbie and Ruth in Ruth’s hospital room was hurtful and intense. The show managed to keep Debbie and Ruth separate for the most part this season, only pairing them up when it would have the most impact. And Gilpin really embraces Debbie becoming the heel in the situation.
The real benefit of keeping Ruth and Debbie on different paths for season 2 was the chance to explore the back story of some of the other characters that didn’t get as much screen time during the first season. The fourth episode of the season, “Mother Of All Matches,” was one of my favorites. The episode followed Welfare Queen Tammé Dawson (Kia Stevens), who beat Liberty Belle for the GLOW crown at the end of the first season, as she visited her son during a family weekend at Stanford University.
The 35-minute episode gave the character more depth than she had ever been given and for the rest of the season, Dawson was given more purpose to what she was doing behind the scenes. While Dawson wasn’t really a featured player in the remaining episodes, the story with her son made her appearances more important and gave her the feel of a major character.
Another highlight of the season was Marc Maron’s Sam Sylvia, the GLOW director. After discovering last season that teenager Justine (Britt Baron) is his daughter, we get to see Sam deal with being a parent and slowly growing into the role. He also has to repair his relationship with Ruth, after she took the girls to the mall to film opening credit scenes for the show without his knowing. Maron does a great job with Sam, walking a fine line between legitimate personal growth and maintaining the cynical essence of the character as an offset to the more optimistic Ruth.
So what’s the chase for season 3 (which I assume will happen based on the success of this season)? Well, I won’t give that away, but a third season is undoubtedly set up in the season finale. Unlike last time, I’m looking forward to where they go.