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    Friday, July 13, 2018

    Go, Grow, GLOW: S2 Roundtable Review

    It's been roughly two weeks since GLOW's second season was released on Netflix, and the series has been getting rave reviews online. Inspired by the real-life wrestling promotion in the 80's, this series continued the tale of Ruth Wilder, Debbie Eagan, and a whole cast of ladies as they continued their journey as wrestlers.

    Just like our previous review, we rounded up some of the guys and gals from the Smark Henry Offices to talk all about this season—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Let's get to it!

    1. How did you guys find Season 2? Did you like it more or less compared to Season 1?

    Stan Sy, Editor at Large: I love it more compared to Season 1. It was clever using each episode to present individual issues that the characters—and in many ways, women in 2018—faced through the lenses of two parallel situations. The best example is “Mother of All Matches,” which dealt with how the ladies balanced their careers with motherhood. The juxtaposition between how Tammé’s career choices ultimately strengthened her relationship with her son and how outside of her career, Debbie’s life slowly unraveled and fell apart was brilliantly written. This season dealt with a lot of darker themes, too, which shouldn’t be surprising given the conversation about the treatment of women in the workplace. Great stuff, all around.

    Nicole Le Saux, Monday Night RAW Reviewer (on leave): Way better than Season 1! This season focused less on the flashy women’s wrestling, and more on what goes on behind the scenes. Struggling to find sponsors and networks to air their show—everything about this season felt so real. And the episode where Ruth got injured? Ugh, I felt that. So real.

    Enzo Tanos, Throwback Thursday Columnist: The first episode of Season 2 was strong, then things dragged a bit in the next few episodes, but episodes 4-10 of the season were—to paraphrase The Miz—must-see television. There were still some flaws, which I will be getting to in a bit, but overall, Season 2 was more compelling than Season 1 in terms of character development. Just as I had hoped for when reviewing Season 1, the storylines grew a bit darker, and in a good way, but there were still enough lighthearted moments to add some levity.

    Was there more wrestling in Season 2 than there was in Season 1? Not that much. Were there more wrestler cameos? There were actually fewer. But I watched GLOW because of the story I got invested in during the first season, and Season 2 more than delivered in that regard.

    Anthony Cuello, Lucha Underground Reviewer: Much, much better compared to Season 1. The wrestling sort of takes a backseat this season because the focus was on the characters’ lives and relationships, but I think that’s fine because they did an excellent job fleshing these characters out. It’s nice to see the show tackle some dark and serious themes here, and I think that made everything more compelling.

    Migz Llado, #SGQ Columnist: While I felt this season was better overall, I still think there’s too much going on with all these characters they tried to work on. Yeah, there were payoffs to each character’s story arc but with so many stories unfolding, it made the others seem like filler material. It was fresh to put Betty Gilpin’s Debbie Eagan/Liberty Belle in the spotlight this time though, so there’s that.

    It’s not going to convert any non-wrestling fans but marks, smarks, and fans of light-hearted comedies would probably enjoy this. The 80’s visuals will surely make you nostalgic and the music will surely make you shake your groove thing. (Uh, is that the correct 80’s reference?)

    Editor's Note: Nope. That song came out in 1978.

    George Pastor, Shoot Henry Columnist: I loved it. Some characters got fleshed out a bit more this time around like Tammé and Justine. Melrose didn’t have much character development other than being constipated, but she had her time to shine back in Season 1. Yolanda was a welcome surprise, as she helped develop a story for Arthie. The new season also did a remarkable job of continuing the story between the four main characters: Debbie, Ruth, Sam, and Bash. That shit got dark.

    I was a bit disappointed with the number of cameos, but that’s just me being nitpicky.

    2. What stood out for you as this season’s highlights?

    Stan: If you thought Kia Stevens was a revelation in Season 1, wait till you see “Mother of All Matches.” That’s the fourth episode and she just shines. I want to give that woman a hug, whether she’s Tammé, Awesome Kong, or Kia Stevens herself. “Don’t Kidnap” is a very, very close second.

    Oh, and if it still wasn’t obvious, Debbie is the true heel of GLOW. She seized the title the moment she victim-blamed Ruth.

    Migz: With the rise of the women’s revolution and the #MeToo movement being a hot topic in this day and age, I felt they gave a fairly accurate representation of how women in this era (maybe up to a certain era even) were seen in the real world. People getting bored by women’s wrestling? The sleazy network executive holding GLOW back because he was rejected? GLOW being replaced with a men’s wrestling show? All these things felt very real because, simply put—they were.

    Episode-wise? Hands down, Episode 8. I won’t be spoiling it. It’s how I think everybody would remember GLOW. Very nostalgic even if it was bitin with the wrestling parts. There was more actual wrestling in this season than the last one though so that’s a plus. Oh! Also, don’t kidnap. Kidnapping is wrong to do.

    Enzo: According to the people behind GLOW, the fifth episode of Season 2 was written before Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, but it was nonetheless very timely that GLOW had an episode that focused on sexual abuse and harassment in the entertainment industry. In here, we can see an appalling contrast between Ruth and Debbie—the former knows a perv when she sees one and won’t have any of his creepy bullshit, the latter sees no problem with playing their games because that’s how the entertainment business works and you’ve got to deal with it. Debbie had nuclear heat in my book when she tore into Ruth for rejecting the network exec’s advances, then “accidentally” injured Ruth in the ring. She may be a product of her times, but as Stan said, she was this season’s heel more so than anyone else.

    Nicole: For me, it was actually the episode where Debbie and Ruth finally lashed out at each other at the hospital after Ruth got injured. We witnessed how hard they tried to sweep their issues under the rug all season, and seeing them break was the most human we’ve seen them in the season. I felt the emotions in that one, and it was the first time I ever cried while watching GLOW. So obviously, that one struck me the most.

    Anthony: “Mother of All Matches” is the best episode this show has put on to date. That episode really made you root for Welfare Queen despite her being the “heel” in the feud; and they did it by showing us who Tammé is as a character and what her motivations are. That almost-double turn at the end was done well, largely because it showed things from a crowd perspective—you see the crowd going along with Liberty Belle’s insults until they wake up and realize, “Hey, that’s pretty mean!” Zoya saving Liberty Belle’s babyface persona through the kidnapping was a nice touch, if only to preserve Debbie’s Miss America character and swing that sympathy back to her.

    George: I’d have to go with the part where Ruth almost got raped. Man, that was a scary segment to watch. All the raw emotions that went into that scene and the aftermath between Debbie and her was so heart-wrenching. As an outsider looking in, it made me scratch my head while muttering “WTF” throughout its entirety. Goddamnit, Debbie. What the eff is wrong with you?!

    On a lighter note, I have to agree that the episode “Mother of All Matches” was such a fun watch. We often don’t see what our parents go through for us, and it oftentimes does not get pretty. In the end, though, she showed how tough of a person she truly is.

    3. On the other hand, did anything from this season make you scratch your head? What was the weakest part of this season, if any?

    George: Hey Ruth, I get that you’re still trying to figure things out again in dating. But for chrissakes, there are other people besides Sam. Sure, things didn’t work out with Russell, and that was a real damn shame, but just because the lack of potential love interests in the immediate area doesn’t mean you go for the only available option. Come on. It feels like the kind of teasing that you just don’t want to see because you know it won’t end well for either party.

    Also, Melrose’s whole contribution to the season was getting constipated and not getting some.

    Migz: Some of the storylines were a bit rushed while some felt ridiculous. The jacket storyline with Melrose and Fortune Cookie was far too silly. Sheila coming to terms with her fans wasn’t really explored properly. I had mixed emotions for Debbie and Ruth’s love/hate relationship with how often the tides shifted. After not being shown for the most part of this season, Carmen and Bash’s relationship took a sudden turn in one of the episodes. I think I said it earlier that I felt there was too much going on in such a limited amount of time.

    Speaking of Carmen, I actually thought she was ending up with Bash. When she didn’t, I kind of expected her to do something about it, but alas, there was nothing. They just moved forward with the story and Carmen was shoved in the background again. I’d wish that they explore this on the next season (if there is a Season 3) given the open ending.

    Stan: I agree with Migz here on the Sheila front. I wish they’d explored her storyline and delved into her background a bit more. Why does she display that type of behavior? Why is she in entertainment when she dislikes interacting with people? Why does she refuse to break kayfabe even when she’s not in the ring or on-camera?

    I also didn’t need the Sam/Ruth ship. WHY. It reeked of, "There are no better options available for me romantically and I dislike you the least among the opposite sex, so you’ll do!"

    Anthony: The set-up to the finale was just terrible. Britannica marrying that stalker fan with the ultimate end goal of splitting up with him once she’s cleared to stay in America is just flat out mean and was a stain on a season that otherwise addressed issues well. So what, it’s okay to take advantage of fans because they’re being weird? News flash, guys: it isn’t.

    What made it even more ludicrous was that the show's producers decided that it’d make for nice television and approved it for filming. Come on, man.

    Nicole: The wedding angle was strange. It felt rushed, and making fun of a fan is mean—no matter how weird he is. :( Other than that, I enjoyed this season a lot and nothing else really bothered me.

    Enzo: Mark being a boring, uptight, and unlikable head-scratcher of a character is a given; and I’d really like to know what makes Sheila tick. But Bash stands out for having a weird and rushed story arc.

    I get what the show’s writers are aiming for here—Bash may or may not be gay like Florian was. He may be trying too hard to convince himself (and/or his mother) that he’s straight, hence his super-friendly, almost flirty behavior around several of the girls. But the writers could have fleshed things out further instead of having Bash quickly go from friendly and enthusiastic to distraught over Florian’s death to impulsive asshole.

    4. Who among the characters on the show stood out to you as this season? Who did you wish you saw more of, or was given more of a focus/storyline?

    George: I loved Ruth's development into an integral part of the locker room and the production team's success. Her attempts to move on in terms of her personal life and find happiness again was a roller coaster of emotions, no doubt. I really wish there were more wrestling cameos, though. I felt shortchanged with Season 2 as compared to the first.

    Stan: Welfare Queen really stood out, as I mentioned above. Midway through the season, I was pining for more Justine, but “Rosalie” gave me just enough of her to get me through it. That said, I wanted more of Yolanda since she ticks off several firsts among the cast—first Latina, first lesbian, first stripper. Would’ve wanted to see her story get fleshed out a bit more. I wish we’d also seen more of Cherry Bang, Jenny/Fortune Cookie, and Sheila, of course.

    Migz: Welfare Queen pops up automatically. She stood out previously and she stands out now. It’s great that we were able to learn more about her character with the episode “Mother of All Matches.” You wouldn’t even think for one second that this woman used to be Awesome Kong after watching that tear-jerking episode. Yes. I shed a few tears. It was that believable and emotional.

    Who do I wish I saw more of? Big Kurt Jackson and Chico Guapo. Joke! I wanted more Cherry Bang. I enjoyed her character progression. Her badassery took a back seat this season because of the focus on the others but Black Magic seems like a legitimate gimmick to me.

    Nicole: I agree with Stan and Migz, Welfare Queen stood out the most and I’m glad we got to see more of her personal life in this season. Oh, but Justine is my favorite character. Like, of all time. She’s so cool. I wish I saw a lot more of her.

    Editor's Note: That's because you're literally her in real life.

    Enzo: Sam Sylvia was, once again, the star of the show among the male characters, and this season saw him get some interesting character development. Though he was still a complete jerkass for most of the first half of the season, it was great, and very satisfying to see him take Ruth’s side when she told him about the incident with the TV exec.

    On the other side of things, I’d like to see more of Justine (totally the breakout character of GLOW in general, alongside Tammé) and her relationship with her boyfriend Billy. What makes this guy tick? I still don’t get it.

    Anthony: I enjoyed Debbie’s back-and-forth portrayal this season, because it really fleshed out her character aside from “girl who hates Ruth because she slept with his ex-husband.” One moment you’re pissed at her for victim-blaming Ruth and sabotaging her date with Russell, then you sympathize with her as you watch her struggle post-divorce, then you hate her again for injuring Ruth, then you’re rooting for her as she tries her best to keep GLOW afloat as a producer. She turned about as much as Big Show does, and the result is that we’ve got a better grasp of who Debbie Eagan is as a character and the challenges she’s facing.

    5. What moment made you mark out the most?

    Enzo: The eighth episode, “The Good Twin.” I was not expecting GLOW to have a “show within a show” episode, but that sample episode of the fictionalized GLOW was just as cheesy, campy, and both intentionally and unintentionally funny as what I got to see on clips from the actual show, as well as spiritual descendants such as Wrestlicious. Finally seeing Chavo Guerrero as Chico Guapo in Episode 10 and watching him call the spots in his intergender match against Debbie/Liberty Belle was great, but that moment didn’t have a “We Are the World”-style number about the evils of kidnapping.

    “Don’t Kidnap”—it’s The Room of bad wrestling songs. ‘Nuff said.

    Stan: Chico Guapo, hands down. I’ve been wanting a Chavo Guerrero appearance since the first season. I also loved that brief double turn for Welfare Queen and Liberty Belle following their match. Oh, and when Debbie shot on Ruth, I began to fucking hate Debbie. What a heel.

    Migz: Chico Guapo and Big Kurt Jackson in the finale. Sorry, I’m a Carlito fan. It’s been so long since I last saw him on screen and it was great seeing him “wrestling” in that last episode. Yes, “wrestling” in quotes, because it was very light AND obviously, he lost. Also, I smiled a little when Chavo did the taunt.

    Mostly, the wrestling bits and references made me mark out a bit. From the actual wrestling moves (Chop! Chop! Chop!) to the little wrestling easter eggs and posters, this season did better with their take on wrestling than last season. The final match was fun even if the battle royal bit was a little over the top. Do watch out for that feelgood ending to the match. Note: I’m not fond of the feel-good finish.

    Nicole: Chico Guapo, duh! Need I say more? These types of cameos are always fun.

    Anthony: I’ve been waiting for Chavo Guerrero to show up after he was announced as their trainer, and he didn’t disappoint. It’s a nice tribute to the Guerrero family’s ties with the GLOW brand, and even helped Liberty Belle and friends get over.

    George: Oh, definitely the involvement of Chico Guapo and Big Kurt Jackson. WE NEED MORE CAMEOS. Close second was Liberty Belle losing her shit in her match with Zoya.

    6. If Netflix were to greenlight a third season of GLOW, what would you want to see? Is there anything left hanging from this season that you want explored in the future?

    Stan: More Justine.

    Seriously, though, probably a closer look at how the women of color deal with the stereotypes they have to portray. There’s Jenny/Fortune Cookie, Arthie/Beirut, and Yolanda… who doesn’t even play a Latino stereotype, but a black one.

    Nicole: YES, STAN. MORE JUSTINE. Also, I really want to know what happens to Carmen and her crush on Bash. They’ve been teasing it for two seasons now—it’s time to finally explore it and make it explode. I also want to know what happens next between Ruth and Sam. You don’t just get rid of those feelings and the awkwardness that easily.

    Enzo: The main thing I’d like to see would be a closer look at the Carmen/Bash/Rhonda “love triangle.” It’s obvious Carmen has a thing for Bash, but it would seem at first that Bash has eyes for the more traditionally attractive Rhonda, whom he impulsively married to her absolute surprise, and possibly as a beard, as I hinted at earlier. And poor Carmen—such a nice girl and such a hard worker, but “swerved” twice on the same night, first by Bash, then by Sam. Methinks she’s pretty damn close to snapping and showing us what the expression “nasa loob ang kulo” is all about.

    Migz: More cameos? The last ones were enjoyable but I wanted more names. Remember, this is the *in Bash’s voice* Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. I’m hoping for cameos from some female superstars next time. Heck, they should get Ivory or Madusa to show up next season just for the fun of it.

    I mentioned I wanted to see Carmen get back at Bash, right? Yeah. Somebody has to teach him a lesson. He was becoming annoying AF. Seeing Carmen snap would be priceless. Unless they go the route that Enzo mentioned, then I’d expect this. Carmen’s been pushed around and over far too long.

    Oh and Stan’s right, more Justine!

    Anthony: How the girls will adjust from a taped television show to a live one should be fun to see, as well as them taking on Las Vegas. Story-wise, I’d love to see Justine continuing her arc of growing up—I’m not sure how they’ll do this since she’s back in Sacramento, but it was nice watching Sam tap into his paternal instincts and being a real father to her instead of the sleazy dickbag he is on set.

    Also, I’d love to know if Olga’s surgery to fix her deformed foot turned out to be a success. Olga vs. Zoya is a rivalry waiting to happen, guys.

    George: I want to see how Sam develops more. Yeah, he got the daddy points for that speech at the end, but what happens next? Please, no romance with Ruth, though. Or show why it just wouldn't work. 

    Characters who took a break in screentime after being highlighted in Season 1 need to get back into more pivotal storylines. I'm talking about Melrose, Sheila, Carmen, and Jenny.

    7. How would you sum up GLOW’s 2nd season in three words?

    Stan: Feed. Me. More.

    Migz: Fun. Nostalgic. Timely.

    Nicole: Dramatic. Funny. Real.

    Enzo: Needs third season.

    Anthony: Kidnapping is wrong.


    What did you guys enjoy about the second season of GLOW? Are you looking forward to more? Let us know in the comments section below!

    Photos taken from Netflix.
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    Item Reviewed: Go, Grow, GLOW: S2 Roundtable Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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