As apprehensive as I was for GLOW to continue after its FIRST season, I was equally excited for more after the SECOND. The show, a fictionalized version of the cult 1980s women’s wrestling program, has shown an ability to adapt and change with each season. The characters grow and change and the narrative adheres to the continuity in a way that many wrestling groups should probably follow more.
Following the cancellation of their television show at the end of the second season, the third season of GLOW – which was released on Netflix earlier this month – brings the women’s wrestling show to Las Vegas with a residency at a casino. Instead of changing up storylines and creating a new show every week, the ladies perform the same show over and over for different audiences.
The repetition is hard on everyone, and not just because everyone gets bored doing the same thing over and over. Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), the star of the promotion as Liberty Belle, gets sick of traveling between Vegas and Los Angeles to see her toddler son. Tammé Dawson (Kia Stevens)- the villainous Welfare Queen – is having back problems from the repeated bumps she has to take. And the pressures of keeping things fresh cause rifts between producers Debbie, Bash Howard (Chris Lowell) and Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron).
And when the casino decides they want to extend the show’s run from three months through the end of the year, not everyone is on board with the decision.
The character development that was done so well in the first two seasons continues here. The relationship between Debbie and Ruth (Alison Brie), one of the main touchstones of the series, is still front and center here. It’s evolved past the problems they had after Ruth slept with Debbie’s husband and then got them kicked off their timeslot by not sleeping with the TV exec last season. They may not be the closest of friends, but they do lean on each other for advice at times.
Sam’s relationship to the Vegas show is hurt after an argument with Bash and Sam’s admission that he’s in love with Ruth. He leaves Vegas to help his daughter Justine (Britt Baron) produce her screenplay. There’s a little hope for reconciliation and some romance when he calls Ruth in to L.A. to audition for the movie, but the nature of this season is to break down and not build, so things of course go poorly there.
While the usual suspects get their fair share of screen time as the featured players on GLOW, the third season gives a little more focus to Shiela (Gayle Rankin), who lives her she-wolf gimmick 24/7, to the detriment of other parts of her life. When she tries to take acting classes with Tammé, she’s told by the teacher that the she-wolf get-up will hinder her, and it leads to some soul searching that forces her to make changes in her life.
The first two seasons of GLOW put a focus on bringing a disparate group of women together for the common goal of creating a successful venture. The third season’s focus is on breaking that group down and tearing them apart. The final episode of the latest go-round puts a question mark on whether GLOW will continue. Several of the girls go their own way as the residency in Vegas comes to an end, despite Debbie’s grand plans for the property. But just because the women of GLOW aren’t together any more, that doesn’t mean we won’t get a fourth season, right?
After all, everybody loves a comeback story.