Full disclosure: I was a pro-wrestling fan for about 12 years of my life — from about 1993 to 2005. Shortly after I got into wrestling, I got into the internet (AOL) and found myself reading about the world of wrestling outside of the ring. Not only was there fun action and drama in the ring, but there was plenty outside of the ring as well. The younger version of me found it entertaining that there was politicking and power games in the wrestling offices, and I played right into the hands of the “Monday Night Wars.” The wrestling business was a trip.
Naturally, my ears perked up when GLOW was announced for Netflix. I immediately watched the documentary about the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and got ready to watch Allison Brie take me back into the world of wrestling. And for two seasons I really enjoyed it. There was a nice balance of the women learning the craft of wrestling as well as dealing with their personal drama outside of the ring. This was what I wanted to see.
This third season is still enjoyable, just not in the same way as the previous ones. Even though the ladies were performing regularly, the audience didn’t get to see it. Granted, it was the same show (almost) every time and it was a show they had performed in a previous season, but it would have been nice to see the of Wrestling part of the series. Instead it focused quite a bit on pointless drama.
Don’t get me wrong. Character interaction is an important aspect of characterization and character development. It just didn’t seem to work this season. Debbie was bulimic for an episode with no real payoff. Ruth led her boyfriend on while harboring a crush on Sam that goes south as quickly as the viewer expects. What about Jenny’s only moment to shine as the sole Asian character on the show being centered around Melrose and ultimately about Melrose’s sad history and redemption? Tammé almost had an interesting story that resembled that of real-life pro-wrestlers (and I say that of her character, not of her performer who actually is a real-life pro-wrestler) in that she was working through pain and likely would have turned to painkillers — until she was told that she could just become a manager instead. And then there’s Bash, who has the actually interesting closeted life storyline that was used to close out his suddenly selfish and controlling storyline that caused unnecessary clashing with Debbie. I understand that this show actually is pretty progressive while also trying to portray the era accurately; at the same time, this season portrayed a gay (or bi?) man in power as villainous and ultimately triumphed over by shame. At least Sheila had a season-long storyline in which she found herself.
It seems appropriate to say something to the effect of, “Oh, I guess the drama outside of the ring isn’t the interesting part at all. It’s a horror show!” That’s something I learned years ago. Somehow despite the homophobia and bigotry pushed by the macho wrestlers on the screen, what occurred behind the curtain was much more toxic. That’s not the show I want to see. What I liked about the show in the first two seasons was that these characters from all walks of life were struggling to find their place and happened into GLOW. Then they started becoming a family that supports one another, standing up against a world that doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Instead, this season was about their settling into a routing (fine) and tossing around the idiot ball for the sake of there being something to do. The season didn’t work for me because they didn’t really have a story and mostly tried to force the season out because they had to have a season of the show this year. Sounds like politicking happens at Netflix, too.