Netflix’s GLOW is back for another run this Friday and the third season provides plenty of action and growth for the characters, but it feels like it’s lacking something as far as the in-ring elements are concerned.
This season starts out with a hilariously awkward scene with Debbie and Ruth (in character as Liberty Belle and Zoya) doing a local TV spot while the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle makes its launch. The segment is very much about the U.S.A. versus Russia feud between the characters, but it takes a hard left turn after they realize what happened and sets the stage for what to expect from not only the rest of the first episode, but the rest of the season as well.
You were just being a good heel, we don’t know if it was a tragedy.
The Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is the new home for the ladies (and Sam and Bash), and the new location allows us to get a better look at their lives, relationships and vices. The show is still very much centered around Ruth and Debbie, but the ensemble gets a lot more screen time this year, including the addition of Geena Davis as the hotel’s entertainment director / former showgirl Sandy Devereaux St. Clair, and Kevin Cahoon as a drag queen named Bobby Barnes, who ultimately becomes an intricate part in many of the character’s personal lives. Wrestling fans will also be happy to see the new batch of episodes means more time for the delightful Kia Stevens (aka All Elite Wrestling‘s Awesome Kong) as Tammé / Welfare Queen. Stevens essentially had her own standalone episode in season two, but gets even more attention this year as she tries to find a new creative outlet as well as deal with the struggles of being a pro wrestler.
Overall, we get a better look at the whole cast and their relationships and where they are at in their lives—but some might see that it comes at a price in the form of a lack of wrestling scenes. There are enough scenes that remind the viewer this is a show about the gorgeous ladies of wrestling, but the wrestling takes a bit of a backseat to the drama unfolding in Sin City. The show still delivers in the form of heaps of drama, wit and humor, but grappling fans might be a bit disappointed if they were looking for as much wrestling as they saw in previous years. That’s not to say there’s none at all, as there are some fantastic sequences throughout a number of the episodes, but we don’t see the ladies training as much in the ring for the same show they put on each night… which becomes a pivotal point of contention later in the season.
Wine hides a lot of injuries.
This time around, everybody wants more—whether the ‘more’ is clearly defined or not—and we quickly see that this won’t be a retread of what happened in Los Angeles. The ladies deal with ageism, racism, homophobia, body and identity issues and the struggle to find yourself in a life you might not want—and that’s not to say the men don’t have their fair share of issues either. Bash is still very naive, especially when it comes to the glitz and glamour of the Strip, but his story arc this time around sees him struggling with his marriage, building a business and some other complexities in his personal life. We see the girls drifting apart despite still living under the same roof, and the different issues that bring them back together. Sam, still present but maybe not as crass as before, shows some growth but still can’t get out of his own way at times.
One of last season’s highlights was the “show-within-a-show” episode called “The Good Twin”, and that same brand of humor returns in several places this time around. GLOW puts on an entertaining Christmas Carol show, and we see some fun and wacky role-reversals in episode 5 that also set up a moving exchange later in the season that shows why whitewashing and stereotypes are offensive to the people being mocked (and how it still might resonate in today’s wrestling world).
There are so many things I want to do and become.
This season doesn’t necessarily have a wrapped-in-a-bow happy ending, nor should it. The move to Vegas is a good one, and it will be interesting to see how, and if, it plays a role in the cast’s lives moving forward if we get a fourth season. (How can we not?) There are some ‘high notes’ (including some memorable on-stage routines) and big moves that set up a fourth season, but it’s nothing that veers too much into the ‘disappointing cliffhanger’ territory. A number of characters get what they want and some find a new direction or answers, even if it’s not the one they wanted or asked for. Season three of GLOW gives you more time to learn about the characters, and more time for them to learn about themselves and the entertainment world they all desperately want to be part of, and leaves you wanting to see where their journey leads to next.
GLOW Season Three premieres Friday, August 9th on Netflix.
GLOW Season 3: Plenty Of Action Out Of The Ring, But Still Brings The Fight