Saturday, August 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'GLOW' - A Drag Performer Brings Compassion Out of Sheila and Rejection from Bash in 'Say Yes'

Netflix's GLOW - Episode 3.04 "Say Yes"

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.

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 next episode of Netflix's GLOW.

"Say Yes" was written by Isaac Oliver and directed by Claire Scanlon

Bash just can't say yes when it comes to actually making a difference in a meaningful way. Most Las Vegas performers are trying to take advantage of him because he happens to be producing a successful show and is the heir to a profitable family business. They see him and GLOW as the opportunity to move up in this seedy world. It's a move towards legitimacy. Bash's childlike wonder has always been a strong component of his character. He's so easily amused. And yet, it's impossible for him to have a genuine conversation. He doesn't know what to say when Debbie talks about missing her son's childhood. Nor does he know how to address people who clearly see him as a gay man. That panic resides so deep within him. He believes he is fooling the world because of his loving and passionate marriage with Rhonda. And yet, he isn't. He is still just as insecure and guarded as before. Bobby Barnes understands this world and sees an opportunity to get what he deserves. He sells out shows every night but isn't given a chance at a bigger role because he's a gay man who performs in drag. It's a good time for the GLOW ladies. The back-and-forth during the drag show is pretty stellar. But Bash simply can't confront these long-simmering issues within him. So instead, he has a heel turn and becomes the villain by denying Bobby the right to perform. That final number as Liza Minnelli is incredible. This is a talented performer who deserves a shot to join the GLOW stage more so than the magicians and jugglers. Bash just refuses to give Bobby that validation. Of course, it's then immediately rewarding when Sheila reaches out with a deep understanding and connection to Bobby. She too has long been defensive about her appearance. She accepts her identity as a wolf and pushes back against anyone who has a problem with it. Her exploration of acting this season has forced her to deal with shedding her identity in order to embody someone else. She struggles doing so because this is simply who she is. She's not just a wolf who can be entertaining during a wrestling show. This is a core part of her identity. She feels seen by Bobby and that is scary at first. She pushes back and is told to be nice because Bobby has nothing but compassion for her. Bobby teases the other GLOW ladies based on their reputations. With Sheila though, he sees a kindred spirit who needs this connection. The final moment is devastating because Bobby has just been rejected. And yet, he also forms a new friendship because Sheila is vulnerable in a way that she hasn't been with anyone from GLOW. That's such a well-earned moment as well because it shows just how deep these emotions truly go. They are hardly the only characters going through a tough time right now either. It's hard to care about Ruth and Russell as a couple. Russell presents as a good guy. Ruth pursuing him last season was mostly to prove that she was capable of making healthy choices. But now, the long distance nature of their connection and the overall craziness of Vegas is being used as an excuse for a bond that just may not be there. Ruth holds onto it in order to avoid feeling whatever she may have with Sam. But again, it's such an overall weird love triangle where the audience may struggle to feel passion or excitement any which way because the intention is to show people who may clearly not go together despite their best efforts to prove otherwise. It's much more relaxed when Debbie and Cherry are just getting high together. Debbie fears that Cherry is about to leave the show just like Keith. That's her first instinct as a producer. But instead, it's a much more delicate conversation about the pressures of being a woman and the need to have a family. Cherry didn't want to push Keith away. She loves their marriage. She just didn't know if adding a child could really improve their lives in a way that was ultimately beneficial to her. It was a tough decision. One that she is made to feel guilty about over and over again. But now, she has a friend she can be honest with because Debbie understands that pressure all too well herself.