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GLOW S01 Ep04 Breakdown: “Dusty Spur”

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Bash and Sam return from a “Magic Carpet Ride” to Palm Springs, a coke fueled bender and creative jam session.  They’ve comes up with the idea that all the girls need to live together in a hotel to facilitate training.  “Like, Olympic Village,” suggests Vicky the Viking.  “Sure, or rehab.  Probably more like rehab.” Oh, and they’re instituting a curfew, “And a strict no-drug policy,” says the obviously coked up Sam, again.  All the girls have to move in immediately, except for Debbie of course, who is the star and has a baby to take care of.

So we get snippets of the Gorgeous Ladies’ stories as they pack up their entire lives to go live at the Dusty Spur motel in Van Nuys (I live in Van Nuys.  There may not be a Dusty Spur, but there are still dozens of  scuzzy motels just like it.) So there’s a moving out montage appropriately scored to Billy Joel’s  “I’m Moving Out” in probably the best scene of the episode.  Brittania apparently lives in her car.  Cherry gets some going away loving from her husband, Keith.  And Ruth finishes off her refrigerator leftovers and the last sip of boxed wine.

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However, there’s a dumb joke where Carmen, AKA Machu Picchu, puts pillows in her bed in an attempt to fool her dad into thinking she’s just been sleeping… for five weeks.  Carmen is not really done any favors by this show.  As played by Britney Young, she’s winning and likable but her character is underwritten.  Is she so stupid to believe the pillow trick will work?  I can see where her story arc is going, (I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.) but she’s unbelievable.  She’s the 25 year old daughter of wrestling star Goliath Jackson.  What does she do for a living?  She must have a real job since her dad is on the road all the time.   I’m not sure if he’s still active but old wrestlers never really retire.  Carmen gets the tired sub-plot this episode that Goliath doesn’t want her to wrestle.  He wants her to settle down and get married.  Come on, GLOW writers, don’t you have anything better for her to do than that?  That was an wheezy old sitcom plot in the year this show is set, 1986.  I’m just suggesting that this show is silly, but it’s still grounded in the reality of the events that culminated in creating GLOW.  And Carmen’s entire story is cartoonish and sitcom-y.

Jenny, AKA Fortune Cookie, also comes off badly on this show.  In the story of GLOW, she mildly bristles at being forced to portray an Asian caricature since she’s Cambodian.  But she happily embraces her samurai sword and bad Asian accent gimmicks.  And Jenny the character hasn’t been given anything to do other than giggle and act immature, and play a character acting out a stereotype.  I know it’s a half hour show and there’s a lot of plot to get through, but many of these characters have been painted in broad strokes.

For example, Sheila The She-Wolf.  She gets the pre-credit montage showing her routine for becoming Sheila.  It’s not a costume, “It’s who she is,” she explains to Ruth later.  Okay, but who is she really?  What does she do for a job?  Where does she live?  Sheila gets some funny character moments, at least.  Here taciturn, wide-eyed reaction shots throughout the series are priceless.

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So there are some motel hijinks.  Ruth and Sheila have an Odd Couple sub-plot where they annoy each other, and Sheila leaves a dead squirrel in Ruth’s bed, but come to an understanding by the end of the episode when Ruth shows some empathy for Sheila and her outsider-ness.

Of course, Carmen’s dad and brothers (played by former WWE stars Carlito and Broadus Clay) show up to drag her back to the house.  Sam shows some cojones to stand up to Goliath and gets back-handed for his troubles.  Bash pulls the really tired sitcom shenanigan of pretending to be Carmen’s boyfriend so she can stay.  They even awkwardly smooch to prove it’s not a ruse.  At least her dad doesn’t buy it for one second.  But who does that in real life?  This is a terrible sub-plot that’s mercifully quickly dispensed with.

BOTTOM LINE: This was the weakest episode so far, relying on rehashed sitcom plots, including another version of what’s called “Schmuck Bait” which is where they set up a character to leave or break the show in some way, which you know can never happen or there would be no show.  But by the end of the episode, the status quo is restored.  Carmen, of course, chooses to stay. Debbie, of course, moves into the Dusty Spur, and presumably we move down the road another week towards the premiere of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

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I am a professional writer living in Van Nuys, CA. I have spent the last 20 years honing my sarcasm writing for the internet. I have two cats, a dog and an imaginary hairless mole rat.

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