If You Only Watch One Netflix Episode This Weekend, Make It This One From Glow

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
There is a lot to love with Glow season 2, a definite improvement upon the Netflix dramedy’s already-great first season. It’s funnier, smarter, and wilder, all without the need to explain wrestling to its characters, or viewers, anymore. While this kind of growth can be seen all over the streaming series' latest 10 episodes — just look at the emotional layers of the Tammé Dawson-focused “Mother Of All Matches” — its true culmination arrives with episode 8, “The Good Twin.”
The late-in-the-season installment gives us a complete, fourth wall-breaking episode of Glow’s show-within-a-show cable extravaganza also called G.L.O.W. The 34-minute romp is feminist, fun, and the perfect quick watch for a summer weekend in between hitting the beach, popping up at outdoor parties, and desperately trying to keep cool indoors.
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The basic premise of “Good Twin” is that the G.L.O.W. crew is trying to get as weird as possible after their cable overlords, K-DTV, set the women’s wrestling show up for cancellation. While the company claims they put G.L.O.W. on the television chopping block for no reason at all, the real issue stems from the episode “Perverts Are People, Too,” when Ruth Wilson (Alison Brie) declined a network head honcho’s (Paul Fitzgerald) thinly veiled casting couch request for sex. With just four episodes of G.L.O.W. left, director Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) decides to “set the weirdos free and see what the fuck happens.”
What happens is magic.
Although the technical plot of “Good Twin” involves an evil twin, her identical sister, a kidnapped child, and an unexpected Cold War team-up, the episode truly shines because it lets the G.L.O.W.’s B-team take the show wherever they want. Cherry Bang (Sydelle Noel), who previously had to fulfill the role of racist rapper caricature Junkchain, debuts her new role as Black Magic, a Caribbean-inflected voodoo priestess. Tammé (Kia Stevens), who has to continue embodying the racist character of Welfare Queen, sells dolls of her character during a commercial break. Arthie Premkumar (Sunita Mani), who wrestles as the racist villain Beirut, floats through a dance dream sequence with another woman, fellow Gorgeous Lady Of Wrestling Yolanda Rivas (Shakira Barrera). Yolanda, a dancer, is a queer woman who usually spends her time appealing to to the male gaze.
In all of these instances, these women are able to take the offensive roles thrust open them by the likes of a well-meaning but bumbling Sam and recreate the parts for themselves. For once, they’re allowed to control their own narratives. Black Magic is a character Cherry created herself to explore her sexuality with her husband Keith (Bashir Salahuddin, the best man on this show). Now Cherry is able to play in that exciting, self-made sandbox rather than live as a character she openly hates. Tammé might have to play the No. 1 welfare queen in a time that reviles the trope, but now she is getting everyone who wants to mock her to actually fill her bank account.
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Of course, Arthie’s turn as Beirut The Classic Dancer, complete with a flowing gown, dreamy background, and gender-bending partner, is the most moving moment in all of “The Good Twin.” The young East Asian woman spends much of the first half of Glow season 2 trying to escape her terrorist character, only to be thwarted by her white peers (Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson), who steal her idea. Although Arthie may have to continue playing Beirut in the ring, she is given this one outlet to show the entire world who she truly is and what her true passions are. That passion is glammed-up ballet with a suit-and-tails sporting Yolanda.
That is why there is so much emotion behind Arthie's voice when she sighs, “I didn’t always want to be a terrorist.”
While these vignettes are some of Glow’s most powerful statements, “Good Twin” is also simply good fun. There are two full musical numbers and an entire bit about Jazzercising the grief away (yes, you read that properly). Bash Howard (Chris Lowell) plays the role he was made for: an insanely handsome-but-bland human mannequin come to life.
And, if nothing else, everyone deserves to see Sheila The She-Wolf’s (Gayle Rankin) shockingly sexualized date gone awry with an actual, literal goat. “The Good Twin” is the G.O.A.T, y’all.
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