Friday, August 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'GLOW' - A National Tragedy Looms Over GLOW's Opening Night in Las Vegas in 'Up, Up, Up'

Netflix's GLOW - Episode 3.01 "Up, Up, Up"

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

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Netflix's GLOW.

"Up, Up, Up" was written by Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch and directed by Claire Scanlon

Change was expected heading into the third season of GLOW. The production was moving to Las Vegas as an entertainment event for a live audience instead of being broadcast on a weekly basis. As such, it should be fascinating to see how the production team chooses to liven up the various storylines. The insane craziness of the twists and turns was always central to the conceit and enjoyment of the final product Sam, Debbie, Bash and Ruth were making. And now, the GLOW team heads into their opening night at the Fan-Tan casino. Everyone is stressed and worried about everything possibly going wrong. And then, the show immediately dampens the mood by establishing that the opening night happens on the same day as the Challenger explosion. The season opens with the optimism that comes from this new venue. It's exciting to see Debbie and Ruth being interviewed by the local news. But when the conversation shifts to teachers going into space, it's immediately clear that this premiere is going to take a tragic turn. Ruth seems to be hit with the brunt of it because she continues with the Zoya persona without realizing that the ship has just exploded. The entire country is devastated and shocked. It becomes a national day of mourning. And yet, the team must rally together to still put on a show. That's how the world works in Las Vegas. The show must go on no matter what. That's bleak and startling. Debbie has the reasonable reaction of wanting to delay the opening to ensure that both the performers and the audience have the time to grapple with these difficult emotions. Instead, everything has to be condensed down to a brief amount of time. It means that the wrestlers don't really want to be there during the run through. Bash is distracted by needing to make last minute changes to the after party. He was so eager about connecting with the producers of this town to ensure this isn't his last show opening in Vegas. He's nervous and it becomes clear that Rhonda remains just as infatuated by this marriage as always. That too seems like it may lead to tragedy at some point. The same could also be true of whatever the show decides to do with Ruth and Sam. It always teases that something more could happen between them. But the show also calls attention to the fact that Ruth is nervous about going into his hotel room for a drink. He is a producer. And thus, he has power over her. They aren't equals in this situation. Debbie has the empowering gesture as a producer by making sure that Ruth's head is in the game because they have to go on with the show. They may never get an opportunity like this ever again. The future of the show may depend on how they all perform during this night. They can't make any adjustments to the show though to comment on the brutal and tragic news of the day. It remains the elephant in the room. The performers learn how to cope simply through distractions. It's nice to see them gambling on the casino floor and having a balloon fight in the dressing room. That too is a massive release of energy. It doesn't diminish the seriousness that comes from the loss of life. It is likely to loom over the proceedings for a little bit because it presents as this disruptive force. And yet, the show still wants to be a celebration of female empowerment and friendship. These girls may tease each other but they are bonded for life too. They may have had their ups and downs. They may continue to have the occasional problems. But they need each other in order for the show to work and to get through whatever life throws at them. That is still the core mission of the show. It provides a nice parallel for how people need close friends to help them deal with any tragedy that may occur at large or on a personal basis.