Wednesday, June 28, 2017

REVIEW: 'GLOW' - Ruth Receives Life-Changing News While Debbie Visits Mark in 'Maybe It's All the Disco'

Netflix's GLOW - Episode 1.08 "Maybe It's All the Disco"

Jenny whips up a party for Sheila's birthday while Sam helps Ruth deal with a new complication in her personal life. Mark changes his tune with Debbie.

GLOW largely takes an episode off from wrestling here. It's a little surprising too. The first showcase was a rousing success as an episode of television even if it held more complications for the individual characters. And now, everyone is still moving forward under the assumption that production will continue. Sam thought it was a great show but does have a few notes. He has some tweaks for Jenny's character to make her less reliant on props. He enjoyed Cherry and Tamm√©'s battle with Dawn and Stacey but believes that members of the Ku Klux Klan will never be able to be depicted on TV. He trusts that Ruth and Debbie's match would have ended successfully if Mark hadn't shown up. These are just minor details but are important as well. Sam is moving forward with production. He's looking at a new venue space to actually hold the events that will need to be filmed. Meanwhile, Bash is missing in action. He was nice and comforting to Carmen in the previous episode. But now, he's avoiding his problems instead of facing them head on with the rest of the production team. Only Carmen knows about the financial problems. And those could ruin the show before it even truly gets started. As such, it's a fascinating time to explore the lives of these characters outside of this job. They've been working so hard that they do deserve some time off.

"Maybe It's All the Disco" does a phenomenal job in showing the camaraderie that has formed amongst the girls. Rhonda doesn't feel the pressure to keep her relationship with Sam a secret from everyone else. That makes him nervous because it's the way these kinds of affairs have always worked for him on set. And then, the girls realize that their period cycles have all matched up together. That's an interesting way to bring conflict into this episode. But it's a very specific way to show how much time they are actually spending with each other too. They are in each other's daily lives all of the time. They have come to know each other better. Of course, Jenny doesn't know that Sheila doesn't want a big party to celebrate her birthday. And yet, she plans one anyone. Instead of it being a disaster, it actually goes well too. Sheila doesn't want to go unless Ruth tags along too. They do stand united as they walk into the roller rink. But it doesn't take long until Sheila has the confidence to be on her in this world. It's fun to watch. It's great to see her like this. She's strong and powerful. Plus, it's great that the rest of the ladies are respectful of her being a wolf all the time. Sure, it could be a joke that they've figured out her age in wolf years. But it is somewhat sweet as well.

Of course, Ruth isn't really able to be a part of this fun. She attends the party for a little while but isn't able to enjoy it. Her mind is distracted by something else. The rest of the girls syncing up with their cycles is a bonding moment for them while an isolating one for Ruth. She isn't having her period which makes her wonder if she could be pregnant. It seems unlikely but she has to take the test just to be sure. A pregnancy would carry so many consequences in her life. It's completely unexpected. It could derail all of the hard work she has put into this project. She has fought hard to make this show a success. She's giving it all of her energy. She's passionate about this work. A baby has the potential to disrupt all of that. It also carries the weight of it likely being Mark's. Ruth and Debbie have gotten to a really good place in their friendship. They aren't what they used to be. But they are talking and working with each other. They have a professional relationship that is really quite dynamic in the ring. Ruth doesn't want to ruin all of that hard work by revealing this pregnancy. She closes herself off from the rest of the world. This is such a personal moment for her and she has no one in her life who she can be open with about it.

That's what makes it so special to see Sam take Ruth to the doctor's office to have an abortion. It shows how deep their dynamic actually goes. At first, he was just the scummy producer who could cut her during the audition with no problem. Now, he has actually seen how she likes to have her opinion heard and how far she is willing to go to make this show work. He invited her to look at the potential venue spot just because Bash was missing. He didn't want to hear her opinion on the space. He just needed her to act as a sounding board for him. That's unrealistic though. Ruth is always going to speak her mind. She's honest because she wants to be noticed and appreciated. She gives her feedback about Sam's relationship with Rhonda as well. Sure, he lies to her about how they ultimately break up. But it establishes a closeness between the two of them that is really engaging. Sure, it's still weird whenever someone tries to pair the two of them together as a couple. But it's still genuine and sweet when Sam waits for Ruth at the doctor's office. That's a strong statement. This whole story is bound to be very political as well. Every story about abortion is. Here, it's Ruth's choice not to continue the pregnancy. She's not pressured to make that decision by Sam. In the middle of the procedure, she needs to make it known that she is a wrestler. It's a way for her to accept the discomfort that is about to come. But it's also her rationalizing with herself that this is the right decision. This just isn't the right time for her to be having a baby - especially this baby that could only ruin her close friendships some more.

Ruth is choosing to be away from Debbie during all of this because of the Mark connection. And yet, Debbie finds herself actually spending a lot of time with Mark and perhaps having a change of heart towards him. That's surprising - especially since the previous episode included that moment where he learned about her new job, her working with Ruth and him delivering divorce papers. It seemed like there was no future for the two of them as a married couple. But here, he is a completely different man. He has seemingly calmed down and has actually listened to the advice from his new therapist. He wants to have a conversation with his wife in which they are actually talking about their problems and whether or not forgiveness could ever happen. Mark believes that Debbie has forgiven Ruth for what she has done. Her actions would seem to suggest that. Of course, she hasn't really. She still holds anger towards her former best friend. She has just found a way to work with her. Actually talking about what happened is tough. It forces Debbie to realize that she has failings as well. She is right to be angry and upset with Mark about his affair. But they were miserable as a couple long before that actually happened. They stopped loving each other even before they had Randy. That's a crushing realization. A baby couldn't fix them. Honesty might. Or it could perhaps be a major distraction that gets in the way of Debbie's new career - like it did during the big showcase in the previous episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Maybe It's All the Disco" was written by Nick Jones and directed by Sian Heder.
  • Carmen is largely keeping to herself. And yet, it's clear she's defeated because of what Bash told her about the show's finances. She eventually shares those problems with Cherry as well. She's been growing more and more frustrated this season. This may be her excuse to finally leave the show - if there is even one to leave at all.
  • Ruth's struggle with this pregnancy is largely a very serious and personal story. And yet, it's quite humorous to watch just how complicated pregnancy tests used to be in the '80s. That's just crazy. Plus, it leads to a great montage where Ruth is able to get a lot done before the results come in and give her the life-changing news.
  • I was not expecting nudity from Marc Maron in this show. So, that was quite a surprising and revealing moment. And yet, it felt important and significant as well. He's in a really vulnerable place. Yes, he's making jokes at Rhonda's expense. But he enjoyed their relationship and is sad that she wants to end things now. 
  • Ruth only tells Sam about being pregnant. And yet, Melrose could be suspicious as well. She shows up when Ruth is trying to buy the test. And then, she makes a comment about it when Ruth isn't feeling too well at the birthday party. Is she being passive aggressive? Or is she completely clueless to what's going on? It could go either way.
  • It's so empowering to see the entire group of women rollerskating together and howling alongside Sheila. They don't judge her for that noise. They join in with her. It shows that despite some growing pains at the start of the season, they truly have bonded as a group and would be devastated if the show didn't move forward.
  • Every show that features a joke or a story about period sex will now apparently remind me of this song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom. So please enjoy that too!

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.