“I’m the athlete and those are my actual medals.”
This episode is peak 80s.
Sam comes in, script a’blazin’, very long scripts a’blazin’, and has the women read their parts. Poor Ruth is milking the spotlight for all she can, having been relegated to reading stage direction, and we’re privy to a story about a society that no longer has or values men, except as breeders. That’s right. The women are fighting for that D.
We meet Sebastian “Bash” Howard (Chris Lowell), a precious bean of a cokehead who is also the producer for G.L.O.W. and he whisks the ladies away to his house of wonder (he’s taken to Debbie immediately and has her ride with him in his helicopter), complete with a robot, a costume closet, and a small butler, who has an adorable face that I really think they stopped making in the 80s. He is Bruce Wayne if Bruce Wayne’s parents lived but never hugged him ever again. The ride over serves to set up key players for us. Most of the remaining women pile into Melrose’s limo, but Carmen chooses to ride with Ruth, a bit out of being overwhelmed, a bit out of being a sweet girl, and Justine begs for a ride with Sam and Cherry (interrupting their spat over Cherry not having a part), revealing that she is a superfan, “May I say that script was your best work since Blood Disco… it has the surrealist quality of your early works like Oedipussy, Venus in Chains, Gena the Machina, but with a more submersive message about the limitations of feminism and nuclear power.”
Sebastian’s home serves Lucky Charms as hor’dourves, liquor as water, and the robot has drugs! There’s a “real Lichtenstein,” proclaims Melrose, still the worst, and there are arcade games in the bathroom! We’re privy to a classic drunk girl telling her feelings to no one in particular (80s face butler) scene from Debbie, “I’m raising a baby with someone I can’t even talk to and if I leave him, where do I live?”
She goes on to say that she feels like she’s losing my her mind every 20 minutes (“20 minutes is about as long as I can possibly pretend that everything’s okay”) to which the butler gives her a puke bucket before he has Ruth help her into a cab. A beautiful acting moment is born out of what could be a cheap this-is-awkward, as Debbie mumbles, head against the cab window, “you’re not my friend”, and Ruth nods and mouths back, “I know.” It is a strangely respectful moment from the woman who fucked Debbie’s husband.
Most of the women are straight up intoxicated, some of them likely just too hype, and they all swoon at the chance to play around in costumes, props, and hats, trying to find who their wrestling persona really is, rather than be Sam’s The Leather Virgin or Ogress.
If you don’t watch wrestling, I’m not sure you fully understand how brilliant this episode is… our women are placed between two men running the show. One of them is overwriting them, with his own agenda in mine, focused on his own genius and what he wants to do. The other embraces the room for simplicity and big gestures in pro wrestling, but doesn’t actually let them find their own characters. He looks out on a room of women who are empowered, dressed as they want, beaming, revealing characters they dug deep within themselves to find, and tells them no. In another wild 80s echo, Bash, with ultimate naiveté and zero self-awareness, Breakfast Clubs them into racist tropes, “she’s Oriental… …you’re an Arab, you’re a big black girl.”
Bash is unashamed and excited, even proud of himself for opening the women up to this.
Arthie: I’m Indian, not Arab.
Jenny: I’m Cambodian.
Bash: Backstory… wrestling is not about backstory. It’s about type, and your types is…?
Arthie: Intelligent and whimsical?
Bash: No, no, no… terrorist, or, or… or genie or some sort of other evil Arab.
Arthie: Oh, you mean stereotypes.
Bash: Yes, bingo, exactly!
I wish that exchange in and of itself was entirely 80s but in WWE, as well as on the beloved indies, it’s a toxicity wrestling rests upon all too often.
Sam Sylvia, human dumpster fire, continues to be a real character, which I appreciate. I keep waiting for him to backslide into an unforgivable offense for shock value, shows often too eager to give us a problematic man and then fling him into the role of Abuser, Rapist, or Murderer as if that brings some additional throwaway edge, but so far so good. His script is mostly trash, but he’s horrified at the idea of boiling it down to stereotypes. He, in fact, almost backs out and it’s Ruth who talks him into staying, revealing to us that deep down, she’s a girl who needs a project, and that maybe despite her quarter life crisis she still has a heart. I hope she’ll keep reminding Sam during his midlife one that he has a heart, too. That isn’t the takeaway message of the show because Sam’s decision to say is also based in Bash offering to fund his next film if he’ll do G.L.O.W. his way.
We close out with the women in their new stereotypes, trying to make good for the camera. As a wrestling fan, I was a bit amused, too familiar with how women especially are reduced, double for women of color, but I do wonder if that bit was for me, Wrestling Fan, or for anyone who gets a chuckle at baby racisms. Again I’m left to question exactly what the show is doing here. I think it can be enough to simply say, “hey, things are hard for women, and especially women of color,” but Cherry’s grievances and very real struggle are still background, and no other women have been brought to the front yet.
Face: Jenny’s bear costume
Heel: Men, all of them
Highlight: Kate Nash as Rhonda as “Britannica”
“…and earlier I was doing algebra.”
“There’s one ball you can’t castrate! That’s the mind!”
“Oh yeah, I like art that tells you… exactly what it is.”
“We are lesbian mutants, we worship only The Goddess.”
Grade: Wavering B