TV Review: ‘GLOW’ Season 3 Keeps Its Momentum With an Emotional Edge

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All that glitters isn’t gold, and life as a performer isn’t all its cracked up to be. In its third season, “GLOW” continues to build on its momentum, but this time around, it forgoes the glitz and glamour in favor of a grittier look at show business. Wrestling takes a backseat in order to allow for more intimate moments with the lead characters, and time for introspection. In it’s latest installment, “GLOW” allows its devoted audience to get to know more about the Gorgeous Ladies, their motivations for performing, and anxieties in maneuvering an industry built against them.

Moving away from Los Angeles, the crew of GLOW head to Las Vegas for a three month residency at the Fan Tan Hotel. At first, the residency proves itself to be another lifeline for the show, but the enthusiasm doesn’t seem to last as boredom and fatigue settle among the cast. The extended stay in Sin City allows for some introspection, and exposes the harsh reality of working in the entertainment industry. In a way the show loses its luster, but not the intrigue. The third season is a building installment, one that slows down and allows audiences a breather from the intensity of the past two seasons.

Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin return strong as the series’ impeccable leads, both turning in emotional performances once again this season. Ruth (Brie) is stuck – still clinging to the dream of becoming a “serious” actress. Debbie, (Gilpin) on the other hand, has big plans for GLOW. Absorbing everything she learns as a producer, Debbie is determined to balance life as both a working woman and as a mother. Along with Ruth and Debbie, other notable cast members re-team and are given equal time to shine in the spotlight. Carmen, (Britney Young) Sheila, (Gayle Rankin) Cherry (Sydelle Noel) and Tammé (Kia Stevens) are notable returns this season. Aside from the actresses, “GLOW” exposes the vulnerable side of Sam (Marc Maron), and the darker, tortured soul of a once likable Bash (Chris Lowell).

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While “GLOW” has a plethora of talent in its ranks, the first two seasons were lopsided, centering around the Debbie-Ruth-Sam drama. However, in the third season, the three core characters literally (and figuratively) take a backseat. Creators and writers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch create a more cohesive season, one that is indicative of an environment where vibrant personalities are forced to co-exist.

With the new setting, there are new characters that are brought into mix. The stunning Geena Davis joins the cast as Sandy Devereaux St. Clair, the Fan Tan’s entertainment director. A tough business woman with a heart for her performers, Sandy serves as a mentor to Debbie. As enduring as Sandy is, she isn’t given a lot of screen time. She’s elusive, the majority of her life unknown. Unlike Debbie, Sandy has come to terms with aging, and embraces it. Debbie continues to maintain her pursuit of perfection, all while trying to keep GLOW alive, and raise her son.

Without a doubt, “GLOW” is one of the most empowering and necessary pieces on television right now. Since the first season, it has never shied away from hot button issues that effect women. This time around, it focuses on the reclamation of women’s bodies, and works to combat the myth that women are slaves to them. It doesn’t preach any sides, but it does tell viewers that women, just like their male counterparts should be free to pursue their dreams without asking for permission, or waiting for it.

What’s so special about “GLOW” is that it allows and admires its women as imperfect, messy, and complicated characters. Season three allows for a better look at the characters we’ve become attached to, and some we’ve barely gotten to know in the past two seasons. Even in its latest installment, it’s one of the best shows on television right now, and remains worthy of acclaim.

Hopefully, moving forward, “GLOW” will retain the eyes of awards voters. The season ends on a bitter note, leaving a lot to be desired, and anticipated in a fourth season. We’re hoping the show goes on, and ties up loose ends.

The third season “GLOW” premieres on Netflix on Friday, August 9th. 

GRADE: (★)

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