THIS SHOW HITS ALL MY FEELS (GLOW EPISODES 3 & 4 RECAP)
I don’t know about all y’all but I find it impossible to watch just one episode of GLOW per sitting. I love this show so much and am pretty much Bash in a candy store now that it’s back. However, I can’t write quite as fast as I can binge-watch, so I’ll continue to cover a two or three episodes at a time.
Episode 3 - Concerned Women of America
You know this episode is going to be a light romp one when of the biggest plot points focuses on Melrose’s constipation. I am a fan of these silly little scenes because the actors excel at capturing the camaraderie and closeness that comes from spending long hours on a set. Minor characters like Melrose, Jenny, and Sheila don’t get lead storylines in GLOW but they are true American heroes when it comes to delivering LOL-worthy lines of dialogue.
In the episode’s A storyline, Debbie and Ruth are tasked with creating a PSA in order to appease the titular concerned moms across America who find GLOW too sexy and violent for their children. This is a chance for the two frenemies to overcome their differences while working together toward a shared solution. After all, we all know the best way to solve a problem is through good communication and teamwork, and “Knowing is half the battle! (pauses from typing, winks at camera). The topic, unwanted teen pregnancy, is brilliant if only because it gives us a scene of Carmen dressed as a giant baby having a temper tantrum, smashing up the promising future a teen mother. In turn, baby Carmen demolishes college (Brittanica), a hot body (Melrose), killer parties (the Toxic Twins), and international travel (Zoya, LOL). In the control room, Debbie and Ruth are feeling pretty proud of their work, and Ruth seems hopeful that the project helped heal their friendship. But then Russell the cameraman arrives to take Ruth out on a date, and Debbie reverts back to sabotage mode, insisting the Ruth stay late to help her re-record a voiceover. To add insult to injury, Debbie tells Russell “I hope your date likes your ‘if the Devil managed a Sizzler’ look.” OK, I give her credit because that is hilar, but also, totes rude of you, Debbie.
Meanwhile, the other wrestlers hang out on set discussing the topic of the PSA. Melrose wonders aloud how much of an issue teen pregnancy is, and Justine, actual high school student, says that, like, half her class is knocked up. The women are less scandalized by this staggering statistic than the fact that high schoolers are getting laid on the reg more frequently that they, actual television stars, are. Melrose takes action by inviting the crew and any of their good-looking friends to a party at the glowtel, but her poop-filled abdomen threatens her chances of hooking up. That is, until Jenny gives her a enema in exchange for Melrose’s lucky jacket. ...Yes, you read that sentence right. Listen, it’s 2018 and we can tell the full spectrum of women’s stories, including those that involve helping each other expel compacted feces in exchange for fashion capable of luring Scott Baio’s cousin. How can anyone not love this show??
On top of everything else going on, we also get a first glimpse of Cherry on the set of her new show, Chambers and Gold. Cherry’s had a long career as a badass stunt woman, but in her first shot in a lead role, she’s forgetting her lines and giving a wooden performance. How could a professional wrestler be this bad at acting? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena have me fully convinced that all wrestlers are Meryl Streeps with closets full of singlets and steroid acne scars. Cherry’s adorably sweet and supportive partner Keith (seriously men, Be Keith) calls up their old friend Sam Sylvia to give her an on-set pep talk. After reviewing some footage, Sam is honest with Cherry--she’s not a lead. She can get there with some training, but that will take a while and in the meantime, she’s going to get fired. To help save Cherry’s career and her dignity, Sam gets on the phone with KDTV and requests that they release her from her Chambers and Gold contract and put her back on GLOW. It’s a sweet gesture and shows that Sam isn’t all prickliness and assholery. And best of all, Junk Chain is back!
Episode 4 - The Mother of All Matches
Heauxs, this is the episode I have been waiting for!! The Mother of All Matches is GLOW firing on all cylinders, perfectly mixing campiness, humor, wrestling, pathos, and heart. True to the title, this installment focuses on the two mothers in the cast, Tammé and Debbie. Tammé drives 6 hours from Los Angeles to Stanford to visit her son Earnest before having to turn around and make the trip back in order to film the big title match against Liberty Belle. I love Kia Stevens (a real life wrestler!) in this role; she brings so much heart to Tammé. While touring Stanford with Earnest, she gets recognized by a fan and reveals her new job to her son. Back in season 1, we first saw Tammé struggle with inhabiting the character of Welfare Queen because of the obviously super offensive connotation. Sam talked her into it by spinning it as a chance to portray a caricature of Republicans’ worst nightmare, and she was exuberant and hilarious performing as the Queen in the ring. But seeing Earnest’s face when he learns of his mom’s new job makes Tammé face her career in a different light. When Earnest says “Sounds like you’re playing a minstrel character on public television,” she replies “It’s wrestling! I’m not the only offensive character. Everyone’s offensive.” She’s not wrong. But Earnest still insists on returning to L.A. with her to watch the live taping.
Meanwhile, we see what’s going on with GLOW’s other mother, Debbie a.k.a. Liberty Belle. She’s not coping well with her divorce, and after receiving a call from her soon-to-be-ex’s new secretary inquiring about the make and model of their bed, Debbie goes into meltdown mode. First, she sells the bed that her marriage died upon, and once it’s out of her bedroom, she feels so good that she proceeds to throw an impromptu estate sale and clears out the entire house. She’s still riding high on the power of her own extraness, sitting in her empty living room enjoying a smoke, when she gets a call from her ex and is reminded that she forgot to pick up her son from daycare.
Debbie is still reeling from her lapse in parenting when she stands next to Tammé in the hallway, waiting for their big revenge match. Tammé commiserates by sharing a story of the time she forgot Earnest at a grocery store when he was a small child. But kids are resilient, and now he goes to an Ivy League university on a full scholarship. In this moment, these two women bond over the shared experience that is being a mother while standing side by side in outrageously caricatured costumes. The music begins to play and Bash’s introductions begin, and Debbie sweeps through the doors as Liberty Belle, ready to play her role.
This match’s ending is already determined; Liberty Belle is planned to win the crown back after Welfare Queen stole it in the pilot. Both women lean into their parts with gusto and the audience loves it. Welfare Queen strides around the ring, declaring “Body brought to you by government cheese!” then proceeds to relax into a folding chair with a tropical drink while Bash credits the patio furniture to their sponsor. Liberty Belle goads her inside the ropes, and the match finally gets underway. One of my personal biggest pleasures when watching GLOW is seeing the actresses do all of their own wrestling. When Liberty Belle performs a “Crucifix” move, you can clearly see that it’s actually Betty Gilpin holding onto Kia Stevens. As the match continues and it gets to the point where Welfare Queen is to lose to Liberty Belle, Tammé looks into the crowd and sees Earnest’s face. His anger and disappointment in her “minstrel character” is clear, and a change comes over Tammé. Her sadness is so palpable, both Debbie and the ref whisper to her to make sure she’s OK. But Tammé is a pro, and goes through the necessary motions to finish the match and lose the crown. Because this is 1980’s professional wrestling, the ending needs to be ridiculously over the top, so Liberty Belle further humiliates Welfare Queen by presenting her with an apron and a broom and rallying the crowd to chant “Get a job!” over and over. Earnest is horrified, and Tammé fights back tears before running out of the ring. At this point, I’m full-on crying watching fake wrestling.
As soon as she sees Tammé’s reaction, Debbie is visibly shaken; she knows that things went too far. She and Bash awkwardly try to smooth over the crowd, mentioning that Liberty Belle is just like all y’all, trying to be the best possible to her made-up daughter Savannah Rose. From ringside, Ruth in full Zoya attire watches, concerned. You can see the wheels in her head turning as she tries to figure out how to win back the unruly, angry crowd. Liberty Belle is the Face of G.L.O.W., and keeping the audience on her side is integral to making the show work. In a stroke of genius, Ruth as Zoya sweeps into the audience and scoops up a little blond girl decked out in stars and stripes clothing, improvising a kidnapping plot in which she steals Savannah Rose to provoke Belle into a rematch. The crowd goes wild, and Debbie ‘yes-and’s Zoya by going into full-on traumatized mother mode, screaming and dropping to her knees. Ruth’s idea works like a charm and gets the audience back on Belle’s side. Bash follows the women’s lead and embraces the new storyline, yelling into the mic “What a mother without a child? Just a person!”
After the crowd leaves, Tammé and Earnest have a moment in the empty gym. “It felt different with you watching,” she tells him. Earnest is honest with her; yes, the match was offensive, but also, he’s impressed by her accomplishments. How did she get so strong? Tammé grins, taking the cue to go back into Mom mode, telling him she got strong by chasing him around as a baby. He drives them home, letting Tammé sleep, and he reaches over to touch her hand. Annnnnd, I’m crying again.
While Tammé and Earnest bond, Debbie goes home where her ex-husband Mark is waiting with their baby. He confronts her about the empty house, telling her she always takes things too far. His words wash over Debbie and she thinks about all of her recent actions, from goading Welfare Queen in the ring to sabotaging Ruth’s date with Russell. Debbie has behaved terribly lately, but now she’s experience a moment of realization. She takes her son to his room, which has a sign on the door: “This part of house not for sale.”
THIS SHOW HITS ALL MY FEELS. Talking about race is hard and complex. Motherhood is tough AF. GLOW doesn’t try to give us easy answers; instead it embraces the mess and shows us that we’re all flawed but damn it if we aren’t trying our best, and that’s what matters.