GLOW ‘Viking Funeral’ review – These girls are out to do more than have fun

Season two sets us up for a deeper understanding of the show’s characters and their group dynamic.

Words

Roxanne Sancto

If GLOW’s first season was an appetiser, its second is set to serve a main dish of fully-fleshed characters whose group dynamics add the necessary spice to culminate in a gourmet meal. While we already witnessed power trips and pettiness and an equally real sense of team spirit throughout the first season, season two opener ‘Viking Funeral’ sets us up for a deeper understanding of its individual characters and their relationship to this show. They’re still not exchanging BFF bracelets, but their mutual goal is all they need to pull together as a team.

While Sam (Marc Maron), their self-sabotaging director, is trying to snort away his college-day-flashbacks in preparation of the first day of shooting, Ruth (Alison Brie) is as annoyingly eager as ever to get started. Having almost lost the show to financing issues, directorial disputes and diva attitudes in the first season, the gorgeous ladies of wrestling are taking their performances very seriously and are ready to give it their all.

They are no longer willing to carefully tip-toe around Sam’s fragile artists’ ego. Although the women – Ruth in particular – have already proven their ideas to be good and worthy, they are not treated as such by the male executives financing and directing the show. Looking to shut her up when she launches at him with another (brilliant) idea, Sam puts Ruth in charge of the girls while he designs the set.

Imagining herself to be the Alma to his Hitchcock, Ruth ignores Sam’s insistence that they do not need title credits and heads off to the mall with the girls and a cameraman in tow. What ensues is the making of a title sequence straight out of a comically aggressive ’80s pop-punk music video directed by Ruth. Contrary to the Girls just Wanna Have Fun vibe, however, it goes to show that these girls are out to do more than have fun – they want to kick ass in what they do and get the recognition they deserve.

Sure, they imagined themselves on a set far more glamorous than GLOW could ever be, playing real characters with intricate backstories, but they are also aware of the fact these camp beginnings could lead them to a brighter future. They’re in it together and despite not having deeply bonded as a group, they know how to throw an unfortunate newcomer off with a serious “you can’t sit with us vibe”.

Season one lacked character development when it came to anyone other than Ruth and Debbie (Betty Gilpin), and of course Sam and Bash (Chris Lowell), but it looks as though a stronger focus on the GLOW group dynamics will reveal more about what brought each glamorous lady to the set in the first place. The highly relatable characters and onscreen chemistry we have come to expect from any show with Jenji Kohan’s name on it is not something GLOW relies on.

Instead, it is drawing the audience into the experience of 14 women who were, for the most part, complete strangers to one another before entering the ring and sharing hotel rooms. They are still establishing hierarchies, finding the artistry in their roles and the love for their wrestling partners. These relationships are building at a realistic pace and it’s rather refreshing to see such a natural depiction of what it really means to be thrown into a group of competing women.

The GLOW girls want to show they really are a team and they are not replaceable – but upon challenging Sam’s ideas with title credits he considers “cheesy girly bullshit”, he is quick to remind them he is still very much in a position of power. But he’s going to have to fight for it. Turns out the GLOW ladies are as driven as their characters are ridiculous, and if they’re going to follow Liberty Belle’s lead and recognise their true worth, it might be Sam who will no longer be welcomed at their table.

Published 29 Jun 2018

Tags: Alison Brie Betty Gilpin Marc Maron Netflix

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