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Quick Take: ‘GLOW’ Knocks Season 2 Out of the Park

Netflix’s award-winning comedy GLOW returns with a broader scope that’s just as entertaining and accomplished as Season 1.

Smack me in the head if I ever tell you I’d have expected to love Netflix’s GLOW as much as I do. It look widespread critical acclaim for me to even give it a look last summer, but once I did, I was completely hooked. Season 1 captivated with an unusual array of characters telling a version of a story that we knew little of. Plus, the acting from stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron gave us compelling reasons to keep bingeing. Plus, it was just a hell of a lot of fun. As a result, It’s one of the few series that I’ve watched twice.

So, now Season 2 arrives on Netflix today. I wasn’t worried about whether or not the season would be good. The writers and talent involved are too good to turn in a garbage season. The real question was in which direction would the creative team take the second season? The answer may not please everyone who loved the first season, but I loved this season nearly as much as the shocking discovery that was Season 1.

Season 2 kicks off with the team returning from a brief hiatus. They’ve got a spot on a local Los Angeles affliliate, and they’re trying to figure out how to craft their show into something people would watch on television. Not only do they have to continue to navigate the tricky interpersonal relationships within the GLOW team, now they also have to figure out how to make it entertaining enough for ratings to justify their existence.

Ruth (Brie) has a lot of creative ideas and enthusiam for advancing the show, but Sam (Maron) feels threatened not only by her increasing involvement but also by the new contract-enforced producer Debbie (Gilpin). The struggle to grow the show provide a compelling central theme for the season. What’s sort of brilliant about Season 2 is how the creative team manages to take the politics and culture of the 1980s and blend it with a modern #MeToo sensibility. The beating heart of all of this is the relationship between Ruth and Debbie, still recovering from their brutal Season 1 break. They both struggle to make in-roads into a male-dominated world, but they’re also still working out their own interpersonal issues.

To me, the entire season – after a little bit of a slow start – provides extremely compelling drama with touches of genuine comedy. And that’s where some may find Season 2 lacking compared to Season 1. The creative team here makes a choice to go the more dramatic route. It’s not a silly female wrestling show. It’s a dramedic tour-de-force with a lot to say. And some may still want hot chicks with hairspray beating each other up. There’s a lot of that, of course, but it’s window dressing to much more substantial goings on.

Performance-wise, Gilpin excels here far beyond her work in Season 1, which I loved. She’s allowed to rage, to sink, to flail, and to fail in Season 2, and Gilpin sells all of it with that plastic Liberty Belle smile. Also given an increased opportunity to shine is Chris Lowell as “Bash” Howard, following a thread hinted at in Season 1.

GLOW Season 1 should fair extremely well in next month’s Emmy nominations. Season 2 airs in a well-timed slot just before final round voting, which should help remind voters that this show is more than a silly ladies’ wrestling comedy. It’s dark, at times, and emotionally investing. Dare I say compelling? It definitely remains the best underdog show on television today.

GLOW Season 2 drops today on Netflix.