We open with the Gorgeous Ladies watching a news report on the Lebanese terrorist hijacking. Melrose explains that, “Hezbollah is a group of people. This is the city and the city is Beirut.” “Can we all stop saying that word please?” implores Arthie AKA Beirut. This will come into play later.
Debbie and Mark make a go of being a family again. Debbie is using him more as a babysitter than as an equal part of the relationship, but he did cheat on her with her best friend, so no sympathy for Mark.
Sam has a meeting with the network suits. Glen from the network tells him, “We have just a few notes.” Apparently, the network is not happy with the “colorful language and the KKK.” “Oh really? You didn’t like that one, Glen?” Maron’s timing and sarcasm is great. Bash finally makes an appearance after missing for weeks. Bash says he got the high score on Burger Time, oh, and that they’re out of money. So now the team has to figure out a way to raise $9,000 to put on the big show. Let’s just say, this plot is as old as Hollywood. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland wouldn’t be out of place painting scenery and practicing their tag team moves.
We meet Elizabeth Perkins as Bash’s no-B.S. mom. She’s great, as usual. She refuses to give Bash another cent after all the money he’s wasted. Once again I’m not a fan of these wheel-spinning audience teases, as we know with 100% certainty that the show WILL go on. But any excuse to have Perkins be rich and bitchy is okay with me.
In a very 80’s moment, the girls decide to hold a bikini car wash to raise some money. This is a funny development. Mark shows up to support Debbie in his well-meaning but belittling way.
In another audience tease, Cherry gets an audition for a TV series with ethnically mismatched female cops. Will her audition keep her from the big wrestling show?
As sort of an apology to the girls for crushing their dreams, Bash gets the idea to bring the Gorgeous Ladies to his mom’s Drug Awareness fundraiser, as the show continues to mine 80’s pop-culture and current events for verisimilitude. This is one of my favorite elements of the show, among many. They all have a funny montage where they profess to their love of crack and how wrestling got them off drugs. Carmen announces with a grin: “My low point came when I woke up on a bench at the mall, naked… and high.” Viki The Viking tops her, “Then I spent all my money on, uh, the crack.” Terrific.
Sam goes about raising money for his movie by pitching his “semi-autobiographical psycho-sexual time travel drama” to the party musicians over a mirror of blow, at Elizabeth Perkins’ Nancy Reagan-style DARE fundraiser, no less. I can’t spoil one of the funniest jokes in the series, but I will suggest that Sam’s movie is a non-starter and he’s totally lost without his dreams of Hollywood stardom. This leads to another weird, soap operatic scene that this show has several of, where Justine confronts Sam about his indifference to her and GLOW’s failing fortunes. Sam thinks she’s trying to seduce him. Sam makes a move on her because he’s a horn-dog and Justine spills the beans that he’s likely her father. Eww, gross. Funny, but gross.
This being the penultimate episode, I also wanted to amend what I said about Bash being a fictionalized Meshulam Riklis, the billionaire casino owner who produced cheesy sex romps starring his wife Pia Zadora. But Bash is more of an amalgamation of Riklis and McLane, and Sam is a stand in for Matt Cimber, the director of GLOW and also the director of the cheesy sex romps. Apparently, Cimber was a tough disciplinarian and a typical Hollywood Chauvinist. In the GLOW documentary, he was variously loved or hated by the girls. Needless to say, this show does a great job of casting charismatic actors who are far more likeable and entertaining than their real world counterparts. Maron proves himself to be a great comic actor who steals a lot of the scenes, showing off a prickly but lovable demeanor and great comic timing.
BOTTOM LINE: Another hilarious, dramatic episode with slow build stoyrteling to culminate in episode 10, the payoff for all the storylines. The writers are deftly juggling multiple plots and emotional scenes. I love the character moments, and it’s funny and sad to see Sam’s dreams fall apart. I also love the writer’s goofy affection for wrestling and everyone’s growing love of professional wrestling that ignores the bone-breaking reality of being body-slammed repeatedly. Onwards to the season finale. No stopping now.