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    Wednesday, August 28, 2019

    The GLOW Up: Season 3 Roundtable Review

    Earlier this month, Netflix released the third season of GLOW for everyone to binge on. This show has always been a favorite here at the Smark Henry offices since it started (check out our reviews of the first two seasons here and here), and we’ve been looking forward to Season 3 for some time now. It took us some time to finish the season, but here we are, and as usual, we’ve got some thoughts we’d like to share.

    As always with these things, we’re doing this in the form of a roundtable review, so let’s go!

    1. Let’s start with a big-picture view on things. Overall, how did you guys find Season 3? How does it measure compared to the first two seasons of GLOW?

    "Throwback Tito" Enzo Tanos: Sadly, multiple parts of Season 3 bored me. But after what I felt was a slow start, the season began to pick up in the middle, and the time spent on the less-heralded characters from previous seasons (and Bash’s evolution from eccentric manchild to temperamental, conflicted control freak) was time well spent. Overall, this was another solid season when everything was taken into account, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Season 2, or even Season 1, for that matter.

    Stan Sy: Well I’m a very simple man when it comes to my TV-viewing habits: if there’s wrestling on it, I like it. That said, there was way less wrestling this season compared to the first two. But that's okay because there were bigger real-world themes that played out beautifully across this season. And as, Tito E said above, I'm a fan of putting the spotlight on some of the other members of the ensemble.

    Migz Llado: This season was quite enjoyable. I liked how each episode had a specific character-driven story arc which became part of a bigger story. They fleshed out a lot of characters and it felt more relatable than the previous seasons. As with before, I felt there was too much going on at certain times but it was done better this time around. It had less wrestling, though, so that’s quite a bummer.

    Anthony Cuello: While there was a lot less wrestling this season, this was still an enjoyable season to watch. It’s definitely taken on a different tone compared to the first two seasons—the struggles now revolve less around surviving as a wrestling show and more around the girls’ different challenges in life—but this was still the same GLOW we’ve come to love.

    2. One of the major changes this season was the show’s move from Los Angeles to the more glamorous Las Vegas. How did this impact the show and its storylines, and do you think they were able to maximize the new setting?

    Anthony: I thought they made excellent use of the change in scenery, and you could see a lot of it impact the characters’ lives. They went from barely surviving as a wrestling show to being so well set-up that there was now time to focus on other things. You saw this with most of the challenges these characters faced—Sam’s struggle to produce something new, Sheila discovering her potential as an actress, Bash and Rhonda adjusting to life as a married couple—and it made for such great viewing. Add in all the usual Vegas tropes of sex, gambling, and showgirls, and it helps this season stand out from its predecessors.

    Photo taken from the Hollywood Reporter.

    Tito Enzo: Vegas is about gambling and entertainment for old people, so it wasn’t a surprise that the wrestling didn’t get focused on as much here. But the setting was also instrumental in Season 3’s deeper exploration of LGBT themes in general.

    Migz: I don’t think it was maximized but they were able to get a lot of Vegas references and clichés in. The setting helped set up key scenes like Ruth’s aversion to gambling and the full storyline it leads to (sorry, no spoilers), and also opened up new avenues for discussion like the LGBT movement.

    Stan: It really made GLOW more than just a show about a wrestling show because the setting was a great backdrop for its meta-commentary on social issues both past and present.

    3. What stood out for you as this season’s highlights? Any specific moments, scenes or episodes that were, as Vince McMahon would put it, “good shit?”

    Migz: Episode 5, hands down. They looked like they had so much fun in-show that I had fun watching as well. The role-switching was hilarious and it was certainly a fresh take especially with how it’s implied that they do the same show every single time.

    Plus, a major heel turn of sorts ended this episode involving a character that I really dislike, so, yeah, this has to be my favorite.

    Stan: Sheila finally getting fleshed out as a character was beautiful to watch. It was only a matter of time until Gayle Rankin got the TV time she deserved and she delivered. I also loved the Freaky Friday episode. And that campfire scene with Melrose and Jenny/Fortune Cookie made me more emotional than I'd care to admit.

    Tito Enzo: Episode 5 as well, but also Episode 6. The middle episodes were the best, and in Episode 5, it was fun to see everyone switch characters with each other, even when Melrose was ultra-racist in her depiction of Fortune Cookie; as that set things up for one of the next episode’s key plot points.

    As for Episode 6, I really enjoyed the character development (Sheila, Melrose, and Fortune Cookie, especially), even if there was one particular downer moment between one of the series’ resident couples toward the end.

    Anthony: I’ll have to agree on the two middle episodes (five and six) being the standouts, but I also think the Christmas-themed finale deserves a mention. Watching them put on a wrestling take on A Christmas Carol was really fun to watch, and it really drove home the fact that they’ve come together as a family throughout these three seasons.

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

    Anthony: I was surprised that there wasn’t a whole lot of Tammé this season because she’s been one of the show’s stronger characters to date. She killed it in that mother-centric episode last year, and this year all she got was an injury plot. I suppose they needed to rotate the spotlight to give other characters their time, though.

    Migz: Is it wrong if I say that I needed more Justine on-screen? Seriously though, While a portion of the season involved Bobby Barnes’ drag queen show, I didn’t feel as attached to the storyline. I appreciated the fact that they tried to be diverse but it felt like a MacGuffin to me.

    If they do bring him back next season, then maybe they can explore the character more.

    Photo taken from Decider.

    Tito Enzo:
    Going to have to agree with Migz here, on both counts. Didn’t really care much for the Bobby Barnes storyline—it just seemed too tacked-on for me. But my biggest hang-up was the utter lack of Justine Biagi. For me, she’s the true breakout character of this series, and I surely wouldn’t mind if Ruth, Debbie, and Sam are what TV Tropes calls “decoy protagonists” for Justine, as GLOW essentially becomes her coming-of-age story in the grander scheme of things. (Though that’s partly the Britt Baron fan in me speaking.)

    Stan: Not a lot of Tammé/Welfare Queen (Kia Stevens) and Carmen/Machu Picchu (Britney Young), which was an utter crime.

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

    Stan: This season was Sheila's coming-out party, no question. I do wish we got to see Carmen's desire to be an actual wrestler from a family of wrestlers get played out more. When Carmen complained about her fellow wrestlers automatically assuming that she didn't date or sleep with anyone, it felt very meta because it was the wake-up call that reminded me of her being stuck in the background.

    Migz: I believe this was Sam and Ruth’s season. I don’t necessarily like or support the relationship they’re building but it did explore their weird dynamic so that’s another talking point for Season 4. I’ve always hated Bash but it’s nice that his character was more fleshed out this season. The latter half had a lot of Bash-centric moments. I wanted to see more of Justine (obviously), and Carmen, but that’s mostly due to Carlito.

    Tito Enzo: Ruth, Debbie, and Sam may have retained their top billing, but I think this was Sheila’s season. Of all the supporting characters, her development this season was interesting and satisfying to watch. Thanks to all that, she’s definitely become much more than just the oddball who thinks she’s a wolf.

    And as mentioned above, Season 3 needed more Justine.

    Anthony: Bash and Sheila had the biggest character growth this season. I’ll admit I didn’t care much for Bash from the start of the show, but he’s come into his own with this season as a steering force behind GLOW. He’s not fully there yet in terms of maturity, but adjusting to life with Rhonda has changed him. As for Sheila, did any of us ever expect that the group’s resident weirdo would actually explore a new side of herself? Hey, I just expected her to deal with wolf things this season, so watching her discover a knack for acting was such a pleasant surprise.

    6. As wrestling fans, what moment made you mark out the most?

    Tito Enzo: Not much, really. It would seem that Netflix is slowly de-emphasizing the wrestling and wrestler cameos as GLOW progresses, so there’s not much to mark out about except for Carlito popping up for another cameo. And yes, I did mark out more for BB Gandanghari than anything else wrestling-related this season.

    Photo taken from Scout Magazine.

    Seeing Carlito is always a treat for me. I’m a huge fan. Other than that, I felt like a smark when they were rehearsing the show. I felt that it probably is an exaggerated take on how a real rehearsal would be. To be honest, there wasn’t as much wrestling as I wanted this season.

    Also, I know it doesn’t count, but BB Gandanghari. I just marked out.

    Anthony: As Enzo said, there wasn’t a whole lot of wrestling this season. Of course, it’s always, uh, cool to see Carlito in the show, and the switcharoo they pulled off mid-season was refreshing. Watching Melrose turn up the blatant stereotyping to 11 was amusing, and it even led to some great character development between her and Jenny later on.

    Stan: The Carmen vs. Ruth match in the finale just because it was the most "campy wrestling" thing ever and it was glorious.

    7. Netflix is notorious for canceling shows at around the 2nd or 3rd season mark, and we’ve reached that point in GLOW’s lifespan. Do you think they’ve warranted a fourth season? If not, would you take how season 3 ended as a satisfying conclusion to the show?

    Migz: I think this deserves another season or two. I’m curious if they’ll take Ruth to where they seem to be going. Plus, a GLOW revival on TV sounds like a good plot point they can explore. That and a network executive heel could add spice to the storyline. I’d also love to see them add new characters who can mix it up with the old ones. It’s like having the old school meet the new school.

    Lastly, I think Justine has to experience being part of GLOW. Maybe. Just maybe.

    Tito Enzo: With Netflix’s seeming focus on teen and younger millennial-oriented programming and standup comedy as its bread and butter, GLOW needed a home run this season, but all we got was a solid base hit. As such, I’m skeptical Netflix will renew the show for a fourth season, though I certainly wouldn’t mind if we get one.

    The Season 3 finale left some questions unanswered, so if the series does get canceled after three seasons, I’m going to be left hanging big-time.

    Stan: I'm going to have to take the showrunners' word for it when they said in an interview with EW that they didn't write and produce Season 3 with the intent of ending the story here. Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch got Orange Is The New Black to last more than three seasons, so here's to hoping GLOW is among the exception than the norm.

    Anthony: I’m hopeful for a fourth season, of course, as they’ve left a lot of room for these characters to still grow and chase their dreams. Some of them seem to have reached their goals—Debbie just pulled off a power move to get that network, and Sam seems to have found new inspiration with his daughter Justine’s film—but some of the girls still have lingering questions to answer. Ruth stands out here more than any other character.

    For all the success she’s had throughout the wrestling show, she still yearns to prove herself as an actress, and that season-ending rejection of Debbie’s offer to let her direct the new show leaves us with a lot of questions. Along with Carmen’s departure to pursue wrestling with her brother, these are plot points only a fourth season can answer.

    8. How would you sum up GLOW’s 3rd season in three words?

    Stan: Daring. Bold. Real.

    Migz: Adult-ish. Diverse. Drama.

    Tito Enzo: Pretty decent overall.

    Anthony: Kidnapping is wrong. (Oh, right, that was last season).


    What did you guys think of the third season of GLOW? Did you like it as much as the previous seasons? Let us know in the comments section below!

    GLOW is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

    Cover photo taken from Thrillist.
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    Item Reviewed: The GLOW Up: Season 3 Roundtable Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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