TV: Glow (Season 2)

It’s tempting in this age of relentless new television to stop at one season, rather than stick around for the commodifying churn of content only to watch a beloved show go downhill. The completist in me rarely yields to that temptation, but I’m especially glad I didn’t with Glow, which in its second year not only repeats the success of its inaugural one, but exceeds it. This show continues its deft mix of gender issues with inspiring, heartfelt comedy-drama.

If the first season of Glow was an origin story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’s pilot episode, the second tackles its first full season on the air as low-budget, Saturday morning fare in the Southern California market. Keeping this shoestring train on its tracks are four primary figures: wealthy producer Bash Howard (Chris Lowell), bombshell star wrestler Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), sleazeball director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron), and spirited, committed co-star Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie). While Bash, Debbie, and Sam are the series’ official leadership—Debbie having maneuvered herself into a producer role—Ruth remains a wild card, bringing boundless energy and creativity to the series, if only to fill the dispiriting void in her personal life. Unfortunately, Ruth has fraught relationships with both Debbie (whose marriage she helped destroy) and Sam (an old-school patriarch whose authority she consistently challenges). Much to her dismay, Ruth becomes a pivotal figure in the fate of the show, her decisions directly impacting its trajectory toward renewal or cancellation.

Glow continues to be a breath of fresh air, a warm-hearted, funny comedy that works serious subtext into its narrative without confusing dramatic heft with fashionable, falsely profound grimdark. Smart writing and charismatic performances make this an easy show with which to connect, led by Brie, who has never been better. Maron is still a riot, his icky personality mitigated by frequent glimpses of insecurity and sensitivity. Gilpin, meanwhile, is increasingly impressive in an emotionally charged role. This is superbly executed television, breezy, goofy, and full of heart.

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