Emmy nominations were announced earlier this week, and it would appear that voters aren't big wrestling fans. Aside from a well-deserved nod for Betty Gilpin (Debbie), GLOW was completely shut out of the awards race. But while the Emmys may have no love for this layered, witty Netflix show, fans have nothing but. Besides the cheesy, hilarious matches in the ring, this heavyweight ensemble features some of the most fascinating, insightful, and flawed relationships on TV right now.
Every creative project, even one as campy and fun as a wrestling show, is bound to have its share of drama and conflict. Throw in a handful of messy personal lives and tempers don't just flare—they explode. In and out of the ring. So, who turns strangleholds into synergy... and who puts a chokehold on friendship? Here are the five best and the five worst relationships on GLOW.
With a cast this size, some characters are bound to get the crappy end of the storyline stick. Melanie and Jenny are hardly mortal enemies; their plot is just boring and dated. Jenny swindles Melanie out of her "lucky" jacket and subsequently finds romance with a cute camera guy. Melanie, an avid consumer of male attention, is furious both at being duped and at her lack of male suitors.
That's about it. They may snipe at each other but at the end of Season 2, these roomies seem to have bonded as friends. It's hardly their fault that they're stuck in a plot that would be more appropriate for Saved by the Bell.
Motel life can be miserable for a plethora of reasons. But some GLOW women find a way to make the best of it. Yolanda is the new girl on campus, replacing Cherry as the new Junk Chain. Yolanda is feisty and sultry, everything that Arthie's not. Arthie finds herself drawn to Yolanda's fiery spirit, discovering that her admiration is actually a crush.
This out-of-the-blue twist is a perfect example of what to do with characters that are otherwise overlooked. Yolanda is out as a lesbian, but up until now, Arthie has never explored her sexuality. It's a romantic thrill watching her moon over Yolanda at the strip club, and even more so when Arthie kisses Yolanda in the middle of the bouquet battle royal. These two light up the screen even more than the title card's neon lights.
Ah, young kind-of-love. Billy make look like a parent's nightmare idea of a boyfriend, but don't be intimidated by his aesthetic. He may look like a ne'er-do-well punk rocker, albeit one who shops in the junior's department, but he's a sweet enough kid. He's even working towards a goal of breaking into the music industry with his band Sh*tpope.
That's what makes him a bad match for Justine. She has no clue who she is yet. All she knows is that she likes Billy. This turns Justine into a de facto Billy groupie, even though he treats her well. She sells the band's merch and wants to tag along on tour, letting her mild filmmaking aspirations go by the wayside. Luckily, her parents are able to convince her not to run off with him. Hopefully Justine will learn that there's more to your teen years than having a boyfriend.
When you picture the ideal father, you likely don't think of Sam, a cocaine-snorting curmudgeon. When Justine reveals herself to be Sam's daughter, he's shocked and overwhelmed. Sam has experienced a lot failure in his filmmaking career, and fears fatherhood is going to be just another thing that he sucks at. But after he comes down from his bender, he really gives it a try. He's hardly the perfect dad. He yells when he should keep quiet, but stays mum when he shouldn't. Still, Sam slowly evolves as both a real father and a man.
Justine also changes for the better. She's taken for granted that adults are complex people who make mistakes and aren't just there to ruin your fun. She develops a perceptiveness and maturity that goes beyond her years. It may not be the most conventional father-daughter relationship, but Sam and Justine truly enrich each other's lives.
GLOW has more than a few challenges in getting off the ground. It seems like there's always a producer, sponsor, or concerned watch group trying to pull the plug on the show. That's why it's so important to keep internal conflict to a minimum. The best way to do that? Bosses and employees avoid sleeping together.
Neither Sam nor Rhonda deserve judgment for their tryst, as ill-advised as it may be. It's clearly consensual and Sam doesn't seem to be abusing his power in any way. For her part, Rhonda seems more interested in the naughtiness of having sex with her boss than in Sam himself. She constantly undermines Sam's efforts to be discreet in front of the other women. What it all comes down to is that Sam and Rhonda are like most of us—good people seeking intimacy. They just don't have it with each other.
Navigating the uncharted waters of the producing game, Debbie and Bash find smooth sailing with together. They complement each other perfectly, each having strengths where the other has weaknesses. At her worst, Debbie is a pessimistic hellcat. But Bash is like an over-caffeinated Little Engine That Could, and teaches Debbie a thing or two about morale.
That being said, Bash is a pampered millionaire who learned his business skills from The Muppets. With Debbie's help, Bash learns the importance of little things like taking down the name of interested producers during a phone meting. GLOW is heading to Vegas in Season 3, and even Sin City won't be prepared for this dynamic duo.
Sam once refers to Mark as a Cabbage Patch Kid. It's an apt description considering Mark has the emotional maturity of one. Not only does he cheat on Debbie, but of all the women in Los Angeles, Cabbage Patch has to pick her best friend. Not cool, doll-man. If anything, this should be a wake-up call for Cabbage Patch to evaluate his role in his marriage and be more of a supportive husband. Yeah, that doesn't happen. Instead he ridicules GLOW, aka. the worthwhile pursuit that also distracts Debbie from her crumbling marriage.
In Season 2, the former couple seems to be in more of an amicable place. This is because Debbie made the right decision to raze the cabbage patch.
Their relationship has been a rocky road, mired by potholes and speedbumps. That's because Ruth and Sam are passionate, creative souls who are as stubborn as they are talented. Ruth is bursting with innovative ideas but lacks finesse. She sometimes forgets she's not the one in charge. Then there's Sam who never forgets he's in charge. He has a fragile ego, shattered at the slightest hint that Ruth may be a better storyteller than him. But when they put aside their differences and work together, Ruth and Sam are as unstoppable as Carmen's body slam. GLOW would have died in its infancy had it not been for this creative force.
Beyond their skill, Ruth and Sam really care about each other. She becomes a part of Sam's home life, having dinners with him and Justine. The end of Season 2 finds Sam and Ruth almost exploring a romance, but Ruth flees into the arms of Russell the camera guy. Ruth and Sam have way more chemistry but the true beauty lies in their professional relationship.
Ruth and Debbie have such a toxic relationship that everyone should be wearing hazmat suits at work. Both competitive to a fault, they seem determined to outdo each other in the bad friend department. Ruth struck first when she slept with Cabbage Patch. Debbie got her revenge by taking over GLOW.
Really, Ruth called it. Debbie should have just slapped her once and ended the friendship. At what point does Debbie's vengeance turn into plain cruelty? When she intentionally foils Ruth's date with Russell? Maybe. Definitely when she flies into a coke-fueled rage and intentionally breaks Ruth's ankle in the ring. This leads to a hospital room verbal smackdown as the women turn past grievances into machine gun bullets, firing round after round at each other. It looks like they've put buried the hatchet for now, but the battle of Liberty Belle vs. Zoya the Destroya is likely far from over.
A crew doesn't get more motley than GLOW. There's a woman who dresses like a wolf outside the ring. A producer who's mommy still gives him an allowance. An ex-med student forced to dress up like an offensive stereotype. But amidst all the eccentrics and misfits are two blissfully normal people—Cherry and Keith. As stunt people, they sure have unconventional professions but they both have good heads on their shoulders. They're some of the only people to have insurance on a wrestling show.
So, whoop-de-doo, they're normal. But they're also adorable. Watching them play around in the bedroom is both sweet and steamy, and leads to the invention of Cherry's new wrestling persona, Black Magic. Keith is the anti-Cabbage Patch; he's completely supportive of Cherry's ambitions and there for her when they don't always work out. Even their problems—Keith wants to try for a family again and Cherry is hesitant—are functional. The Toxic Twins don't have anything on this dream team.