I was a bit skeptical coming into the new season of “GLOW”. When the show premiered last summer on Netflix it was a sensational crowd pleaser. Loosely based on the actual 80s wrestling program of the same name, “GLOW” used its backdrop as a clever gimmick to incorporate women’s empowerment ideas within the plotlines. I was afraid the concept wouldn’t stretch any further and the series would end up being one of those “one season wonders”. I was wrong to doubt, as I’m delighted to say this new batch of episodes is even more fun and innovative than the first.
We pick up where we left off from last season, with the “GLOW” wrestling show being sold off to a small local television network and the ladies now under contract. Their jobs seem more secure but there is some uncertainty in the air concerning their new bosses. Some things haven’t changed however, as the heart of the show Ruth (Alison Brie) still brings her passion and support to the team, contrasting with the sometimes crabby, burned out director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron in a role he was born to play). One of the beautiful things about season 2 is how the prickly relationship between Sam and Ruth grow from mutual appreciation to a real friendship.
Among the new developments, Debbie (Betty Gilpin) makes a power play and becomes a new producer. This might feel like a set up to make her a villain character, but “Glow” is smarter than that. Instead it focuses on Debbie’s struggle to prove herself in a male dominated world, making a rather subtle comment that in a wrestling show containing all women, the men are the ones who are calling the shots.
In the era of #MeToo and “TimesUp, “GLOW” becomes even more relevant than ever. There is one episode where a character has to deal with her own Harvey Weinstein situation, and you can’t help but see the real life parallels at play. Still when the moment happens it doesn’t feel heavy handed or preachy. It’s a credit to the material which refuses to spell out the struggles and the sacrifices these women go through. The show resists the temptation to dip into melodrama choosing instead to remain fresh, fun and light on its feet.
All of this has to do with tone, which the series isn’t afraid to play with. Two episodes come to mind that illustrate just how freely “GLOW” can go from one extreme to another. The first, entitled “The Mother of all Matches” is a strong character driven piece concentrating on the lives of Debbie and Tamme (Kia Stevens). Both are single mothers dealing with their own strife as they prepare to face each other in the ring. The second called “The Good Twin” is an off the wall look into what an actual episode of the show within the show looks like. It’s brimming with fun gags, clever parodies, and a brisk pace that is worthy of its own spinoff.
It’s a bit of a cheat to only give us ten episodes of the new season of “GLOW” as it has proven just how rich the stories and characters have become. Part of me wishes the series was given a regular network television run of 22 episodes, which may seem like overkill in these days of binge watching. But “GLOW” is so infectious, and full of good will, it’s hard to get tired of these lovable wrestling misfits.