Glow returns for a formidable second season, overcoming its predecessor with ease whilst showing further development of the characters and presenting a heartwarming, honest and absorbing story fashioned from first-rate writing.
I was observedly worried about Netflix’s Glow season 2. The pilot season had a burdensome task to introduce the forgotten world of GLOW which, in its glory, is a wonderful place, but also smears a dark shadow over the grim truths women faced in the entertainment industry. Overcoming those boundaries was achieved, providing a reasonable season, but unfortunately, the high-principled first attempt lacked fun for the characters to engage with the overbearing themes. Glow season 2 is undoubtedly a more complete installment for the wrestling group. The show motors on with its character development, but maintains a balance with the core story without shunting out the lead characters.
After the choppy opening shows of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), season two brings a world which supplies the fruits and harsh realities of success for these women. The wrestling show format has reached a respectable level where it can be deemed a passable product, but with the industry hanging over them operated by male executives, there is always a risk that GLOW will cease to exist. Glow season 2 opens an insightful window into the continuous pressure of a concept of this magnitude, and especially in that era; strong, attractive women, in different shapes and sizes, wrestling on the side of wacky, wild stories.
However, it is not the pressures of keeping the show alive that elevates the story to the levels of a notable season. The characters hold the key to everything that we feel for in the story. There is a familiar level of storytelling which the characters manage to sell, allowing you to warm to each individual. I refuse to take away the credit from the creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, who have sliced a piece of history and provided a story to tell, but I cannot help but feel that Glow is in the continuously growing family of Jenji Kohan, who happens to be the executive producer and most certainly influences the writing. Every story she seems to touch turns into gold, with Glow season 2 bearing resemblance to Orange is the New Black. If you like the prison drama, then you are spoilt with such a similar show in a different setting, where you can pick a trait of any character and remember their name. These shows understand the spirit of communities, born from quality-driven writing.
Like Weeds and Orange is the New Black, the characters attempt to take on the world individually but then somehow show unity with each other within a spiraling story of love, friendship, and the occasional drama. The key story that will compel is the friendship between Ruth and Debbie, that was still fractious at the end of season 1. Glow does well in continuing to articulate that complication between them, with Debbie trying to forgive and overcome a divorce and Ruth seeking to finally have something to be happy about in her underachieving life. Sam Sylvia, the director of GLOW, is the only lead male character that feels part of the main group, but his story branches and depends on Ruth, with his moody, miserable approach which Ruth continues to try and break down. The other women all have a say because the Netflix series does well in bringing them into the timeline without harming the overall arc, utilizing plot points that represent feminist issues. The outside characters will continue to develop more importance, with Glow seemingly mirroring its character development strategy with the likes of Orange is the New Black.
Putting aside the jovial wrestling scenes that keep you happily engaged, Glow season 2 shows a darker history of women in the 80s. Glow continues to show the regular attempts of men to undermine their female counterparts in manipulating and often subtle ways. But what was even more harrowing is how the men saw it as completely normal; a daily routine in their righteous lives. Season 2 does well not to allow the messages to inhibit too strongly, without overriding the enjoyable atmosphere the characters bring.
As a final note, on a recent podcast episode, I spoke to the team about the role of women in Film & TV, a subject that is regularly discussed whilst the industry is ferociously catching up. I was asked if it was more important to replicate stories with gender swaps, like for instance Ocean’s 8, or if it would be better to tell new stories that involve women. Glow and its sister Netflix shows are a glowing endorsement that we need new stories.