If I have to give a mid-season critique of the show, I’d say it’s a great half-hour comedy. The writing is witty and the performances are enjoyable. They’ve created a fun ensemble of oddball characters that you want to spend time with. I’ve also praised them for bringing professional wrestlers onto the show for a paycheck that doesn’t involve breaking their bodies. But I haven’t given the original Gorgeous Ladies enough credit. I blamed them for being bad wrestlers in my review of episode 1, but the reality is most of them had only cursory wrestling training and then were shoved on-stage to deliver a match. They did the best they could, and the fact that I remember large chunks of this stuff is a credit to the wrestlers/performers.
I recently watched the GLOW documentary on Netflix, which is a so-so movie but also a pretty good reminder of what was going on at the time. Some of the Ladies did have professional wrestling experience like Matilda the Hun and Tina Ferrari, soon to become Ivory in WWE. They and others, like Suzy Spirit, were the workers that made the whole show go. Some of the girls were actresses and comedians that could create funny characters. For example, I had forgotten the beauty-mask and bathrobe wearing Housewives armed with plungers and toilet scrubbers, on the Netflix show known as The Battling Biddies, were an actual wrestling team. And that the same actresses also played the psychopathic horror show girls Chainsaw and Spike, the Heavy Metal Sisters. I hated both of those tag teams, which was their job, so I’m very impressed. I want to salute the Gorgeous Ladies and then suggest, in the future, that the producers of this show throw them a couple of bones and cast them in little supporting cameos. Maybe someone’s mother, or the bartender or something. That would be a nice little show salute, considering you’re using their life stories as fodder for this show.
So now, back to the show based on the other show. Episode 6 is a bit of a standard sitcom false tease episode, as Debbie wants a heel to make her look great as the face of GLOW, and she’s thrown into practice matches with pretty much the entire heel roster. And wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the episode, Sam and Debbie realize what the audience already knew: Debbie and Ruth need to fight in the GLOW Championship Match.
Despite the dull plotting, it was a pretty funny episode. We get to see most of the girls’ burgeoning wrestling personalities. Considering she got very little story time so far, Tamme the Welfare Queen has turned into a great character, as played by Kia Stevens. She’s a physical presence, but funny and sensitive as well. And she also has wrestling experience as Awesome Kong. Aside from being a racist caricature, Welfare Queen is an interesting character. I didn’t even realize Stevens was Awesome Kong. That’s how different her personality is on this show. I’m excited to see what they do with her character moving forward.
So despite Ruth creating a great heel Russian character, Debbie still hates Ruth’s guts. So Sam sets up a series of practice matches. Some are funny and some are sad, like when Debbie is pitted against Sheila the She Wolf and implores her to bite her in the ass and Sheila just stares at her nonplussed. That was funny and sad, and well-acted. There’s more funny sad acting as Brie does an extended scene running solo through the entire proposed match with Debbie. That’s some great acting. A less successful subplot has Ruth pestering Russian motel owner Gregori to give her some Russian character help. She accompanies Gregori to his gay son’s teenage bris. Ruth wins over the Russians with her Streisand impression, singing songs from Yentl.
Another weak subplot has Justine dumping Hot Stud Pizza Boy after one date, because he talked trash about Sam’s terrible movies. How very Seinfeld-ian of her.
In a good bit of writing, Debbie has monopolized GLOW and made the whole show about her. Sam is bending over backwards to appease her. And we see concrete evidence of the fact that Debbie is selfish, difficult, and was most likely written off her soap for exactly this kind of behavior.
The episode culminates with Debbie and Ruth, drunk from Vodka at the bris, exchange wrestling insults and give a preview of their feud to come. After getting pinned, Ruth declares “I have to barf.”
Then there’s a weird scene with Gregori and Hot Stud Pizza Boy, and then we end with Justine stealing Sam’s video camera as we cue credits. Okay then…
BOTTOM LINE: This was a moderately amusing episode. I don’t know why we’re supposed to give a crap about Gregori and his story, or what Hot Stud Pizza Boy has to think about Justine. I want more of the Gorgeous Ladies’ back stories. Also, I don’t know if we needed half an episode to motivate Ruth’s Russian alter-ego. To paraphrase Bash from Episode 3, “What’s her back story? She’s Russian and she hates America.” To me, her tired, “Russia is Great, America is terrible,” one-liners seem borrowed from a Yakov Smirnoff set at the Ha-Ha House. But Brie is great at playing Ruth, who created this really dumb and obviously evil stereotype, makes it seem like she thinks it’s a good idea, and then have Ruth sell it as if it’s a wonderful character so that it makes this whole confabulation into funny TV. I also like how the show is setting up feuds and wrestling storylines. I don’t recall GLOW Wrestling having any strong Champion versus Contender storylines. Hell, I don’t think GLOW Wrestling had much story from one minute to the next. But I appreciate this show for trying. GLOW The Comedy has reached that level of excellence where we love spending time with the characters and want to see what happens next. And this is only the 6th episode. Most old-fashioned sitcoms wouldn’t get to this stage six episodes in. It’s story-telling on good old Communist era Russian steroids.