Crossing the Stream: Part 51 - "GLOW" Sn 1, Ep 3

So, for the last few weeks I've had family mentioning that my XXL size shirts are hanging off of me like tapestries. I've never really been a guy who tucks in shirts, not my outer shirts anyway. As I've established, I work in layers, and the first layer is usually the one tucked. But now, we're talking tucking, and there is no way to hide my still ever-present gut. I'm not a fan of this, but it's either that or letting my shirts dangle, and there's something to be said about not looking like a small child using father's clothes to play dress-up.

Speaking of that, I've been buying some new clothes. I haven't had to actually try things on in the store since that truly unholy time of my adolescence where I wasn't sure what size I'd be by the end of the school year. I've dropped at least two inches on my waist, so some new business casual pants were in order. But here's the real kicker: just before I started this little program of mine, I called my shot, Babe Ruth style. I bought some blank white t-shirts that were on clearance. One was a XXL, but the others were L and M. Now, that XXL also hangs pretty loose, and the L fits okay. Maybe a little snug. But I wore the medium as an undershirt on this last scorching Saturday, and I'd swear I was wearing a wetsuit. It felt that bulky and clingy. I don't know if I'll ever be "medium" about anything, but not too long ago, I might have inadvertently torn that shirt asunder like Biruce Banner.

Meanwhile, the priority since the end of the weekend has been to get back on track with a focus on vegetables and small portions. I went grocery shopping and ended up with about two pounds of brussel sprouts, a whole bunch of zucchini, and a spaghetti squash. I have no earthly idea what to do with a spaghetti squash, but I"m willing to learn! I think part of my early success with the weight loss came down to buying fresh ingredients and trying to eat them all before they could start going bad.

"GLOW" Season 1, Episode 3 - "The Wrath of Kuntar"


In the same episode where we finally see shades of Sam Sylvia that inform on his unrepentant jackass default, we also get to meet the yin to his yang in the form of ultra-eighties inheritance baby Bash, who quite literally lives in a state of suspended adolescence with his third grade sidekick acting as his valet, his canned foods magnate mother breathing down his neck, and his healthy appreciation for pro wrestling serving as the impetus behind GLOW. The show itself, I've now noticed, has a bad tendency to simply drop important new characters directly into the gym as if they've existed this whole time, and while that's not elegant narrative, it's certainly economical. Much like wrestling, now that I think of it.

But before we get to the creative struggles between the slowly evolving team, we get Sam writing his garbage, misogynist script in between an altercation with his ex-wife over the shared custody of a dog. This cold open, along with Justine the punk rock girl's gushing over Sam's seemingly exclusive filmography of sex-horror schlock, paints a much better picture of why this beady little man has nothing to say that isn't next-level nasty. In my days, I've met a fairly decent cross-section of sexually frustrated would-be storytellers who

Bash might be the even slimier alternative to Sam's methods, but at very least he has the good sense to hand over the creative reigns of the show to the performers. His decision to abandon Sam's incomprehensible softcore porn script and set the GLOW ladies loose in a costume closet at least shows that his claims of valuing them as artists are at least partially grounded in truth. He then throws most of that good will directly into a dumpster when he starts lobbing shitty stereotype grenades at each woman, but there's an element of truth in his assessment of the show: wrestling is about archetype. The audience needs to be able to see a villain as a villain and a hero as a hero in about five seconds. That's just part of the genre.

Just as surprising to the characters as it is to me, Ruth is the one to bring the diverging paths of GLOW back onto the same course. The one advantage she has in talking to Sam is simply that she knows what kind of "professional" this sorry excuse for a writer-director is. Sam covers his creative frustrations with a veneer of practicality, so Ruth's frank admission that she needs the show to continue because "it's all I've got right now" speaks to both sides of him. It's all he's got, too. He has no personal life. Hell, he doesn't even have his dog anymore. So, he walks back his argument with Bash.

The resulting fireside heart-to-heart has a great comedic undertone thanks to Bash wearing an Elvis jumpsuit and Sam getting suddenly very proud of his "Oedipal" time travel script. It's really disheartening to see how easily bad entertainment can get financed based solely on egos and quid pro quo, but it helps to remember that Sam and Bash are making their product on the very fringe of mainstream entertainment, a fringe that largely doesn't exist anymore today thirty years later. While one man has the enthusiasm for the genre and the other has the experience with a shoestring budget and a lowest-common-denominator tone, this partnership might work in some mystifying way as long as Cherry, Ruth, Debbie, and the rest of the ladies can stick around to do the real heavy lifting. Yeah, I intended that pun, a little.

Finally, the cast of wrestling personas takes shape, with some coming out as the gross racist characters that sadly ring pretty true of 1980s wrestling. Others are fairly inspired, such as Dawn and Stacey's "Beatdown Biddies" duo and Justine's lean into her punk rock aesthetic as "Scab," the yuppie-hating anarchist. Most interesting, however, is the dynamic between shattered friends Ruth and Debbie. While the former soap star slips into a properly vapid nationalistic all-American Olympic athlete character (complete with cheeseball Southern accent), Ruth's on-stage persona is still up in the air precisely because she has too much depth of character off-stage. Ruth cannot be pigeonholed as easily as Sam and Bash might have liked, her "Home Wrecker" heel concept unable to manifest easily in costume or performance. Just like Sam's space opera script, Ruth is possibly too complicated for this show.

Random Notes:

-Debbie voices the thoughts of every first-time helicopter passenger: "I can't hear you, but I agree!"

-Bash seems like a character with plenty of potential, but his childhood friend turned butler Florian had better come back, because he's a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed how quick he was to confirm Sam's assertion that he had no less than ten Oscar-worthy ideas.

-Episode MVP: definitely Britney Young as Carmen. Her genial gesture to ride to the party with Ruth, along with her enthusiasm for both an arcade cabinet machine in the mansion's bathroom and for her "good guy" persona of Machu Picchu, is so on-brand for her.

-I understand that 1980s films had a frightening abundance of robot servants in them, but the more contemporary shows poke fun at this trope the more I realize it's probably just a lot of writers these days grew up watching Rocky IV over and over. Still "The fucking robot has drugs in it!" was a pretty great line.

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