Glow Season 3 Review: What Happens in Vegas Won’t Stay There


In this week’s episode of ‘Giant Mess’, Giants-Mets fan Neal Lynch recaps and reviews Glow Season 3: Viva Las Vegas!

Here’s what I touched on in the video:

  • Bash Howard (Chris Lowell) and Rhonda Richardson / Britannica (Kate Nash) getting to know each other better (and for worse) in their green card marriage
  • The Challenger space shuttle explosion serving as this season’s launch
  • Welfare Queen / Tammé Dawson’s (Kia Stevens) back problems
  • Ruth Wilder / Zoya the Destroya (Alison Brie) has a hot and cold relationship with Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron)
  • Debbie Eagan / Liberty Belle (Betty Gilpin) struggles with being away from her son Randy, her eating disorder, and then gets involved with an older media magnate J.J. ‘Tex’ McCready (Toby Huss)
  • The controversial time-jump — good or bad?
  • Drag queen Bobby Barnes (Kevin Cahoon) taking up screen time when you have other characters who need development like Reggie, Dawn Rivecca (Rebekka Johnson) & Stacey Beswick (Kimmy Gatewood) who play the Biddies Edna and Ethel
  • “Freaky Tuesday” and “Outward Bound” were two of my favorite episodes
  • The problems between best friends Jenny Chey / Fortune Cookie (Ellen Wong) and Melanie Rosen aka Melrose (Jackie Tohn) and lovers Yolanda Rivas / Junkchain (Shakira Barrera) and Arthie Premkumar / Beirut (Sunita Mani)
  • Sheila the She-Wolf (Gayle Rankin) shedding her costume thanks to Bobby
  • Cherry Bang’s gambling debt gets swept under the rug
  • Defending the “Christmas Carol” season finale

Of course, my iPad crapped out and instead of stopping like a normal person I panicked and decided to wing it. So, I forgot / missed a LOT of material, which might be hard to accept considering the video is already too long at around 30+ minutes.

If you need a refresher on Season 2, check out this short recap:

And here’s the trailer for Season 3:

And here are my additional thoughts about each episode.

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Episode 1: Up, Up, Up

Synopsis: “Hours before GLOW’s opening show at the Fan-Tan casino in Las Vegas, a national tragedy unfolds on live TV, leaving everyone spooked.”

Should the show go on? Sandy (the casino manager played by Geena Davis) says “yes” as does Bash, but a very rattled Ruth doesn’t think she can do it and Debbie’s on the fence.

Had Ruth not been on the local news trashing America and the Challenger while the tragedy took place, I could see proceeding as usual and inserting a moment of silence before? Maybe a quick message afterward “this show is dedicated to”?

If it weren’t opening night and Ruth still got caught in a nightmare scenario, I think you can cancel that night’s show. But, the added weight of it being opening night forced their hands. The show must go on and you wonder just how strong Ruth can be given her fragile past.

I was expecting more of a backlash from at least one member of the crowd. A “how dare you!” moment. Extra heat for Zoya but I don’t think we got it.

I saw people comparing this to 9/11. The sports world shut down for a week or so. When they came back, they had memorials and dedications for the rest of their respective seasons. Most of the entertainment industry felt Americans needed an outlet or a distraction to process what happened.

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Episode 2: Hot Tub Club

Synopsis: “On a day off, Sam teaches Ruth how to gamble, Bash struggles to take care of an ailing Rhonda, and Arthie and Yolanda face an intimate dilemma.”

Sam and Ruth reconnect when Sam gets Ruth to open up and enjoy her surroundings. He gets her to gamble and she dominates Blackjack. They enjoy a nice steak dinner, Sam senses he should shoot his shot and Ruth recoils a little. Later, she joins him in the hot tub and he confesses his in love with her. She’s obviously torn but leans toward rejection, expressing her desire to stay good friends. Sam tries to contain his frustration.

Personally, I don’t want to see this happen. I like Marc Maron but it seems his schtick is always old guy chasing young women half his age. If that makes me ageist, so be it.

I’m not gonna get in the way of love but this whole weird father/daughter situation first cropped up with Sam and his daughter Justine and now it’s popping up again with him and Ruth. I consider myself open-minded about age-gap relationships (I’m almost a full 6 years older than my wife) but it’s a hurdle I just can’t get over. I won’t stand in the way but it’s a thorn in my side for sure.

Debbie commuting back and forth from Vegas to LA to see her infant son, Randy. It wears on her and she’s itching for this 3-month stint to end so she can get back to mom life and her ‘real’ acting career. I definitely felt for the flight attendant when Debbie sniped her, but it further cements Debbie as the proud lioness and her constant struggle to assert dominance and debunk stereotypes.

IS RHONDA PREGGO?!? … No. She “just” has migraines. As someone who’s had a migraine, it’s brutal. Fortunately for me, they’re not recurring like they are for Rhonda. Bash doesn’t know what to do, blames his lack of care for Rhonda on his upbringing and his apathetic family. Bash is learning how to be a real partner and not just a fuck-stick. But, we see him hesitantly ease into the role, so things are looking up? Maybe this isn’t a sham?

Arthie (Beirut) and Yolanda (Junkchain) have an awkward moment while making love. Of all the storylines in Season 3, this one was the most maddening. Arthie goes down on Yolanda but she won’t let Arthie go down on her. Arthie’s not comfortable with it and Yolanda gets upset. Guys, guys, guys. Take a hint from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and R-E-L-A-X.

Carmen is lonely and horny. If only the internet were around in its current form, Carmen would have better luck.

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Episode 3: Desert Pollen

Synopsis: “Fed up with the ladies’ sloppy performances and lack of training, Cherry takes them to a showgirl dance class, which stokes Debbie’s insecurities.”

Cherry’s husband Keith wants to be a dad. Don’t we all? But, Cherry’s really concerned about what it will do to her body and her ability to work. She’s spooked and it’s completely understandable. Problem is, she’s talked it up so much with Keith that he’s chomping at the bit. They appear to be at the point of no return.

Ruth does a topless dance for Debbie then Sam walks in. Alison Brie’s booooooooooobs! There’s the initial shock like whoa I’m seeing what I’ve been imagining for years (even though we’ve already seen them before in a previous season of this very show) but the experience never get old. Then there’s the genuine laughs she jiggled out of Debbie. Then the sheer embarrassment of having Sam walk in. What a rollercoaster.

Ruth and Debbie bond over burgers, fries, and shakes and then Debbie goes back to her room and forces herself to throw up. I mentioned this in the video but it’s bonkers for a woman like her to think she’s not beautiful. I called her Nicki Minaj on steroids.

Melrose thinks… that a guy at the casino bar thinks… that she’s a prostitute… but turns out he’s the prostitute. Hilarity ensues. We get to see penis and a whole lotta bush. You pay me! No, YOU pay ME!

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Episode 4: Say Yes

Synopsis: “A visit from Russell puts Ruth on edge. Bash hires a magician to spice up the show. Sheila forges ahead with her acting and finds a new idol.”

Ruth talks about moving in together, trying on rings at the pawn shop, and buys Russell a very expensive camera, all to cover up her feelings for Sam. The relationship with Russell has felt off since the moment they met. Honestly can’t believe it’s still going on. But, maybe it speaks to her Jekyl and Hyde personality. When performing, she puts it all out there but when she’s not she’s shy, reserved, insular, and hesitant.

They go to the drag show where we meet Bobby doin’ his damn thing. He jokingly ‘banishes’ Ruth and Russell and roasts the rest of the group, but has a moment with Sheila. The Sheila-Bobby storyline was a huge hit with most viewers, but it didn’t click with me.

After the show, in Bash’s penthouse at the hotel, Bobby hits on Bash who senses this and immediately puts a stop to it.

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Season 3 Episode 5: Freaky Tuesday

Synopsis: “Tammé’s back problems lead to a major shake-up in the ring. An offer to extend the show divides the producers. Justine asks Sam to read her screenplay.”

This might be a hot take but Debbie as Zoya is actually better than Ruth as Zoya. She’s got that Brigitte Nielsen in Rocky 4 vibe. Ruth as Liberty Belle was an excellent example of Alison Brie’s range but she still didn’t pop like Debbie does.

Carmen (Machu Picchu) played Welfare Queen and it worked. We find out in the locker room that she’s half-black, so that makes everything okay…?

Melrose played Fortune Cookie, Jenny’s character, and it DID NOT work. Probably because there’s not an ounce of Asian in Melanie. Jenny’s legit pissed.

Jenny played Britannica and it worked even though neither are a genius nor an egghead scientist. I assume the scientist community is steamed. But, honestly, there’s just something about that look, the Catholic school girl outfit with the nerd glasses that morphs anyone into secret sex sauce.

Tammé as one of the Biddies, Arthie as the other Biddie? Nailed it. Apologies to elder “mature” females everywhere.

One of the biddies (Stacey or Dawn) as Arthie’s extreme jihadi character Beirut. Oddly enough, Arthie doesn’t have the same reaction as Jenny. It’s like Arthie’s just glad to not have to do it anymore. Thought maybe Arthie and Jenny would have more of a discussion but Arthie already expressed her contempt for the character.

Cherry as Melrose worked. “I’m 50 but I act like I’m 19. Let’s fucking party!!”

Sam’s reaction – “I feel like I’m on acid”. I’ve never done acid. I’m deathly afraid to. But if it’s anything like this event, I’d be willing to go on the waiting list to try. Readers of this blog who’ve done acid, how and when and where should I do it?

Bash takes a heel turn towards the end when the majority of the cast votes against extending the show’s run in Vegas. He basically says everyone is expendable and puts Rhonda in a tough spot, though she seems somewhat unfazed. Is the end of Glow as we know it? Probs not, it’s episode 5 of 10. Also, Bash isn’t wrong. Most of the characters who come off as assholes usually aren’t wrong, it’s just the way they go about it. Bash got fed up. He’s been massaging everyone so much that he’s done playing nice.

This was one of my favorite episodes. Love switching things up to avoid monotony. Loved seeing how versatile most of the cast is. Bash and Sam’s reactions were priceless.

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Season 3 Episode 6: Outward Bound

Synopsis: “A camping trip in the desert canyons outside Vegas spirals into a night of soul-searching, bitter showdowns and bombshell revelations.”

Seems like whenever you need to hash shit out, you go on a retreat — usually to a secluded place like a desert.

For me, it was when I was right around 21 and it was with my fraternity in the woods of … Maryland / Pennsylvania? We had what’s known as a “gripe session“. We’d get all smoked and/or liquored up, stand in a circle around a fire-pit, point out one person and state our grievance with said individual. I thought it was highly embarrassing to put someone on the spot / on blast, so when my turn came up I went around the entire circle of 40+ guys and did an absurd gripe for each one (think “you’re too fucking… blonde!” from Fight Club). That’s me, inclusive as shit. Anyway…

This is a common trope for a show. I believe New Girl did it. There are probably others. Got a lot of conflicts that need resolving, get the group together away from all distractions, and let ‘er rip.

Cherry and Carmen suggest Tammé be a manager since her wrestling days are pretty much over.

Jenny vs. Melrose — Melrose can’t see why Jenny’s so offended and upset about Melanie’s portrayal of Jenny’s racist Fortune Cookie character. Jenny’s already stated that she’s Chinese-Cambodian, but that declaration didn’t stick with anyone. As educated as we all hope to be, history is an ongoing lesson.

So, Jenny finally expounds on her background, specifically the Cambodian Genocide she and her family endured. According to the always trustworthy Wikipedia — the genocide was carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot, and it resulted in the deaths of almost 2 million people (almost a quarter of Cambodia’s population) over the course of four years in the late ’70s. Her revelation was heart-wrenching. I didn’t know. Don’t know that many people outside of that region would be aware.

I appreciated the dichotomy between Jenny speaking about the Holocaust (a well-known event) juxtaposed with Jenny’s revelation about the genocide (lesser known in Western circles).

Yolanda vs. Arthie vs Edna and Ethel — We’ve seen this kind of scene before, right? It’s a party-type environment, we’re expecting light-hearted banter and laughs. The Biddies break out the bong and we get awkward conversation about sexuality. The Biddies come off as homophobic. As cool and relaxed and laid back as Stacey and Dawn appear to be, there’s still a stigma attached to having a partner who’s gay? Also, why can’t Arthie be bisexual? Instead of helping / guiding Arthie, Yolanda keeps abandoning / ditching her.

Rhonda stands up for her man Bash when he’s getting bashed by the rest of the crew. What a road from rags to riches for Rhonda. From sleeping in her car to living in a penthouse. She still has her numbskull moments, like telling Carmen to go for Cherry’s ex, Keith.

Sheila gets dehydrated, sees a wolf while hallucinating, gets saved by Reggie, and ends up burning her she-wolf costume. It was a big moment for her and the audience ate it up, but again I couldn’t connect with it.

Debbie and Ruth get lost but bond. Debbie can’t help digging into Ruth, like a big sister. Ruth admits she has feelings for Sam but when she goes back Sam’s gone. This is where the title really clicks — instead of coming together and getting tighter, doesn’t it feel like everyone’s growing apart (outward bound).

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Season 3 Episode 7: Hollywood Homecoming

Synopsis: “Sam takes Justine to meet with studio execs, Birdie arrives in Las Vegas to spend time with her daughter-in-law, and Debbie makes a new friend.”

Jenny asks for a raise since she’s handling costume design / maintenance and she gets it because it’s Debbie. I almost wanted to see her approach Bash or possibly Sam before he left to see the contrast in managerial styles.

Debbie runs into “Tex” from Wyoming while chasing down Randy on the casino floor. While having drinks / dinner together, Debbie realizes that she’s been boning dudes the same age as Tex’s son. It’s a sobering moment for Debbie and could be the catalyst for her wanting to settle down with and commit to Tex.

Debbie going all in on Bash when she realizes he can’t talk was an all-time moment.

Birdie and Rhonda bond — “do whatever you need to to keep him interested” “however you see fit”.

Bash getting his inheritance ($40 mil) early because he got married. What a relief… or is it?

Sam being so goddamn stubborn about having a heart attack — my wife was screaming at our TV.

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Season 3 Episode 8: Keep Ridin’

Synopsis: “As Ruth grapples with major doubts about her path in life, Bash and Rhonda go on a spending spree, and Cherry and Carmen pick up a new side gig.”

We time jump from the 50th show to the 200th show (initially a 3 month engagement — late January to late April, the assumption is 4-5 shows per week, so 200 would put us at end of year (November / December). A lot of people weren’t happy about this. What HAPPENED in those 8 to 9 months? Nothing?

Ronda and Bash discuss their sex life was entirely about his sexuality. When Bash says “even if we never have sex again”. That’s just how the male brain works.

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Season 3 Episode 9: The Libertines

Synopsis: “Ruth heads to LA for her big audition, Debbie helps Bobby take the Libertine Ball to the next level, and Rhonda plots to rekindle Bash’s interest.”

Melrose is dating the gigolo Paul? Is she paying for it? Mel seems like a catch, so it’s kind of mind-blowing she hooks her caboose to Paul.

Ruth’s audition was good but you can see why Justine didn’t want to go with her. Sam thought Ruth had it locked up. Seemed like a part written for Ruth? Ruth admits she’s in love with Sam, tries to compartmentalize between professional life and personal life like Sheila advised and then looked real bad when she pulled away from Sam after he told her she didn’t get the part. Makes her look like she was only hooking up with Sam as a thank you for getting the part.

Got a lot of people comparing the Sam-Ruth age-gap relationship to Debbie and Tex’s. The difference is Sam has been a mess and Ruth finds a little bit of herself in Sam but part of her doesn’t want to continue the cycle. Sam always seems to find a way to blow things up just when they’re good and Ruth has that flaw as well. They’re kindred spirits but so am I and my grandfather. Doesn’t mean we should’ve dated.

Meanwhile, on the flip side of that coin, Tex is established. He’s had great success. More stable. Consistent. Debbie was spiraling but she still had goals. They’re not precise or laser-sharp but they’re there and she consistently finds herself in positions of leverage, she’s able to identify those opportunities and capitalize. Tex is the antithesis of Sam and Bash. Calm, cool, collected. Well-mannered and unflappable. But how long could this possibly last?

Geena Davis steals the show during the charity fundraiser at Bobby’s club. She’s 60+ years old and still commands the spotlight. When she showed up in the showgirl outfit, my first thought was how much does that head dress weight? I think they said 35 pounds before, which leads me to believe that showgirls must do a lot of neck workouts, which leads me down a very dirty and dangerous path.

Rhonda discovers that other men flirting with her turns on Bash. She has a mini-flashback to Birdie’s advice and decides to hire male hooker Paul (now Mel’s bf) with an assurance to Mel that they won’t have sex. Of course, they end up having a very erotic threesome when Bash realizes he’s got feelings for Paul. Not gonna lie, it moved a little.

The fire at the club during the charity event was a stark reminder that uh, YEAH, it’s the ’80s. We finally see the raw, uncensored homophobia in full stereo. As 2019 as this show sounds and feels, the truth is the ’80s was no walk in the park for those who were different from the accepted social norms.

IMHO, they gave way too much screen time to Bobby. Listen, I understand he’s the impetus for Sheile and, to a certain extent, for Bash, Arthie and Debbie, but he’s not essential to GLOW. He should be in the same category as Paul. I mean, we’re three seasons in and we still barely know anything about Reggie or Stacey & Dawn — members of the GLOW roster.

Sure, Bobby’s magnetic. Never a dull moment. But, it’s a departure from the core of the show. It indicates a lack of confidence in your cast or in your character development. Bobby’s the Bagger Vance, the fairy godmother, but he’s not around for Season 4.

What a crossroads for Arthie. She’s been confused about her feelings and her sexuality and now she’s getting an ugly look into what she might deal with if she embraces her attraction to women.

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Season 3 Episode 10: A Very GLOW Christmas

Synopsis: “With morale running low, Carmen convinces the team to perform “A Christmas Carol” in the ring. Debbie and Bash strike up an unlikely new partnership.”

Some said this felt like a mid-season finale and if this were a sitcom on the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC) and shot on a set, yeah, it might’ve been.

Bash looks like an asshole again for pulling his money from Rhapsody and we’re supposed to feel for Sandy and Bobby and the showgirls we didn’t even get to know. Losing your job sucks, I get it. I know it well. I’ve lost my job so many fucking times, it never stops hurting. But, we had little to no exposure to Rhapsody, which I had to Google to find out it was the showgirl revue, so I’m not gonna turn on Bash because of this move.

It definitely sucks for Sandy that she has to fire a lot of people, but Bash had a history of making bad financial decisions because it wasn’t really his money but now that he’s got this inheritance and he’s seen success, he’s making smarter decisions. I can’t hate on him for that.

Turns out Tex ain’t a saint after all. We finally see a heel turn, albeit a fairly minor one. Debbie wants Tex to buy a local TV station in LA, says she’s looked over the details of the offer, and Tex retorts with something to the effect of “You’re just my girlfriend, you might be my wife, and don’t want you to see me ugly”. Newsflash, Tex, that’s what relationships are. And maybe this is why he’s once-divorced. It’s also a reminder of why Debbie’s divorced. Mark didn’t believe in Debbie and just viewed her as hot housewife / trophy wife who doesn’t have a brain or ambition. Trouble in paradise?

Just when everyone’s turned on Bash, we see him in a bad spot and finally get a glimpse of the mental and emotional pretzel he’s been in. He’s trying to come to terms with not only his attraction to men but a former male lover dying of AIDS and the cultural / financial ramifications of fully embracing that lifestyle. Debbie’s trying to get him to come to the show (where she plays his mother) but Bash spills his heart out and openly weeps, saying “I don’t want to die” then lays his head in Debbie’s lap. In this moment, Debbie is the mother figure to Bash.

Eventually, Debbie convinces Bash to buy the TV station Tex won’t pay for. This is payback for Tex’s earlier behavior. It’s another step forward in Debbie’s quest to become a powerful producer / executive. She’s still emotional but she’s able to harness those emotions and direct them to savvy business moves. Savage. Shark-like.

Keith and Cherry have an emotional reunion courtesy of Carmen during the Christmas show. They talk about adoption, which is a compromise that Cherry could get on board with. There’s also surrogacy but not sure if that’s a thing in the ’80s.

Carmen leaves, so the show could majorly suffer without her expertise. Debbie and Ruth are shocked but it’s no surprise to us. We saw her have the conversation with her brother about how stale the Vegas routine is.

Debbie – Ruth scene at the airport – debbie convinces bash to buy the tv station, makes her a president, and she sets up GLOW to be a major program on the station, wants ruth to direct, ruth says no. debbie’s pitch was hurried and flustered, she didn’t want to pull this card, haphazardly made her argument and ruth seemed offended / forced.

What will probably happen in Season 4:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Season 4 will be heavier on the wrestling. I wasn’t one of the vocal minority that bitched about the lack of wrestling in Season 3. Would I like to see more? Sure. You watch the WWE or any other pro wrestling show that’s male-dominated and you hear the stories outside the ring and who wins, who gets the belt, who gets the glory is an ongoing point of contention. Not so much with GLOW.

And maybe that’s the point? Because they’re women and women don’t care about fake victories? But, I think about the real life feud between Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Shawn Michaels and there’s hardly any of that in GLOW and close to 0% of that in Season 4. The only real wrestling-related conflict comes from the roster’s distaste for their controversial character personas.

Debbie ditches Tex and moves away from doing Liberty Belle, starts to see things from Bash’s eyes

Ruth breaks free of Sam’s toxicity, has her Sheila moment after several botches in-ring

Sam probably relapses after getting jealous about Justine’s success but leans on Justine to find his groove, gets over Ruth after a brief, torrid affair

Arthie becomes a sexual dynamo, leaves Rhonda in the dust, adopts new character persona

Reggie gets her long-awaited storyline / arc that gets her cheap heat

Stacey & Dawn get their long-awaited storylines / arc that allows them to be iconic announcers / managers

Jenny’s costume designs get noticed, lands a gig on a major Hollywood movie, which could lead to her starting her own business

Melanie spirals hard after break up with Paul and Jenny’s departure

Tammé takes GLOW to another level with her managerial work, able to influence more matches, causes friction with wrestlers she doesn’t manage

Sheila’s versatility also brings juice to GLOW’s shows, her rise affects Ruth who takes a backseat

Cherry initially doesn’t take to motherhood with adopted child causing Keith to second guess decision but Tammé and Debbie try to help (we might also find out another GLOW member has been a secret mother)

Carmen gets ‘homesick’ while traveling, comes back to see GLOW has succeeded without her, and turns heel

Rhonda and Bash go through the darkest of times, as Rhonda can’t come to terms with sharing Bash with men, suggests divorce, and Bash accuses her of only wanting him to score big settlement

 

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