This article contains minor spoilers for season two of GLOW.
GLOW’s sophomore season, which became available on Netflix on June 29, is all about frustration. Each of the women is dealing with their own struggle, many of which are indicative of the world in which these women live. Ruth (Alison Brie) is demeaned for daring to overachieve in the industry she loves. Debbie (Betty Gilpin), in a new role as producer, is constantly shut out and ignored. Arthie (Sunita Mani) and Tammé (Kia Stevens) grapple with the stereotypes they portray in the ring and the affects they have on their perceptions of themselves.
For anyone who loved GLOW’s exceptional and diverse ensemble in season one and wanted to see more characters introduced, you’ll have to be patient, but as season two chugs along, you get more and more of them. Cherry (Sydelle Noel) and Keith (Bashir Salahuddin) continue to have the most solid relationship on the show. Bash (Chris Lowell) and Carmen’s (Britney Young) adorable friendship grows closer. And newcomers Shakira Berrera and Victor Quinaz fit right in as Yolanda and Russell, respectively.
The drama between Ruth and Debbie continues to anchor the show as it grows throughout the season and culminates in one of the show's best scenes to date toward the end of the season. Brie and Gilpin expertly find the balance between bitterness and genuine concern in their portrayals of Ruth and Debbie’s complicated friendship. Their dynamic far surpasses the intrigue surrounding the odd relationship between Ruth and Sam (Marc Maron), which edges a little too close to toxic for comfort. This exploration of very flawed relationships is a fascinating aspect of GLOW, but it's obvious the writers are trying very hard to convince us that Sam's undeniable charm somehow makes up for his constant, insecurity-fueled misogyny.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't.
GLOW seeks to tackle a number of social issues in a limited span of time. Wrestling, after all, often relies on stereotypes and generalizations to build easy conflicts. However, it’s always struggled with being a little too ambitious in its social reach by trying to tackle too much in too little time. As a result, the show's pacing stutters as it attempts to explore the Me Too movement, AIDS epidemic, racism in wrestling and more all while convoluting odd love triangles in the process. As a result of this overreaching by the writers, the storylines that are intended to tackle these very real issues are often rushed or ambiguous and not given the time and care they deserve.
Wrestling, and all of its delightful idiosyncrasies, is part of what makes GLOW so unique and enjoyable. The show embraces the out-of this-world storytelling style of professional wrestling and even brings in talent from the independent circuit for cameo appearances. Season two takes its sweet time getting to the wrestling, however. It’s unfortunate; the actresses have all improved (Minus Stevens, who has always been a great wrestler), and the wrestling segments are all well-shot and fun. GLOW even ventures into the wild world of intergender wrestling, which remains controversial even as WWE inches towards it and shows like Lucha Underground embrace it.
The standout episode of the season, in fact, is an episode within an episode, featuring full matches, backstage segments and promos. This episode encapsulates everything that made GLOW such a knockout in its first season. It presents a unique brand of quirky social commentary fearlessly, and it doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is: a silly show about complex women in a silly world.
Seasons one and two of GLOW are available for streaming on Netflix.