Episode 3 is where GLOW really begins to hit its stride as a series, fleshing out some of the GLOW girls, showing Debbie and her drunkest and most vulnerable, and delving into Sam Sylvia’s complex relationship with women.
The episode opens with Sylvia fighting with his ex-wife, tormenting her by claiming that their dog was hit by a car before giving her custody of the pet for the week. After a nasty exchange, the “neutered” Sylvia remarks “There’s one ball you can’t castrate – the mind.”
So, fresh off his castration epiphany, Sylvia goes to work on his first script for GLOW, developing an elaborate post-nuclear dystopia where “leather virgins,” “lesbian sluts,” an ogress, and the vile Cuntar (“a vision of hideousness”) do battle for breeding rights with the surviving male “specimens.”
It’s pure post-divorce, misanthropic, misogynist revenge porn. But, at as Sam later reveals to the yuppie, trust-fund money mark producer Sebastian (“Call me Bash”) Howard, Sylvia has also written a script for another movie entitled Mothers and Lovers. The only way Sylvia can perceive women is to classify them in one of those two roles; they are either there to nurture or to bang.
Bash rejects Sylvia’s vision for GLOW in the most diplomatic way possible by bringing the whole cast out to his Malibu mansion to enjoy some of the finer luxuries, such as arcade-style video games, drug-dispensing robots straight out of Rock IV, and a wardrobe full of outfits for an impromptu costume party. Unlike Sylvia, Bash urges the actresses to develop their own characters as opposed to adhering to a director’s vision.
“Look at The Iron Sheik,” Bash said. “What’s his story? Where does he come from? It doesn’t matter. He wears a head scarf and hates America.”
In a sense, Bash is empowering his cast to become more than “gorgeous ladies,” even if he’s relying on stereotypes and appearances to guide him. For Sylvia, this means accepting women outside of the comfy roles he has established for himself. It leads Sylvia to storm off, only to be brought back into the fray by Ruth. “(This is) all I have right now,” she said.
Debbie maneuvers her way into the role of the All-American Girl, Liberty Belle, while Ruth falls flat when she tries to embrace her shortcomings as The Home-Wrecker. “It’s not working,” Bash said, following a promo attempt.
“Help us out, Ruth,” Sylvia said. “Who do you think you are?”
For the first time in the series, Ruth is speechless. As an aspiring actress, she wanted a significant role. But as an individual, she’s left without any identity of her own.