Friendships & Relationships Are Strained in ‘GLOW’ Episode 2 (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for GLOW Season 3 Episode 2, “Hot Tub Club.”]
The first rule of pro-wrestling is to protect your opponent. Yes, the fights are designed to make it look like two spandex-sporting enemies want to kill each other, but the aim is to create this spectacle without causing your opponent legitimate injury. This requires a serious amount of trust and communication—it’s about being there for your fellow competitor at all times. And this is a mentality that should be regarded both inside and outside of the ring.
“Hot Tub Club,” the second episode of GLOW‘s third season, is all about characters being there for each other—physically and emotionally. Miscommunication and distrust lead to fights and break-ups and uncomfortable home truths. The camaraderie we saw in the first episode already seems to be dissipating as the crew settles into the routine of their Las Vegas lives. The ladies have fallen into a pattern: do a show, get drunk, sleep until the late afternoon, wake up, and then do it all over again the next day. It’s hard to stay present when your life is riding on autopilot.
Let’s take Bash (Chris Lowell) and Rhonda (Kate Tempest) for example. A marriage of convenience built on the back of lies has turned into a sort-of sweet, semi-romantic relationship. They’re living together (albeit in a hotel room suite). They’re having a lot of sex. Rhonda seems to be genuinely falling in love with the excitable producer. And Bash, so far, isn’t acknowledging his sexuality and is content with playing happy families—he even organizes a mock photoshoot so they can take their “engagement pictures.”
However, when it comes to the things that really matter, Bash isn’t there for his wife. When Rhonda falls ill due to severe migraines, Bash wants to help and protect her, but he doesn’t know how to handle the situation. Illness doesn’t fall under his remit. “[My mother] didn’t even give out hugs, let alone take care of me,” he laments. He abandons a bed-bound Rhonda and goes to Carmen’s (Britney Young) room to ask for her advice, but the intrusion doesn’t particularly enthuse his old friend. “You know, I think this is the first time you’ve even been to my room since we’ve been here,” says Carmen.
Bash is just as oblivious to his friend’s pain as he is his wife’s. He doesn’t understand why Carmen is so miserable and spending the day inside in her dressing gown. “Because both of my best friends abandoned me and I live by myself in this weird, big hotel room,” she explains, matter of factly. It’s an acknowledgment that, even when living together in such close proximity, people can still drift apart and feel alone. Bash has been so preoccupied with the show that he’s neglected his relationships, and it needs to be spelled out for him to realize.
When Rhonda said she wanted to be alone, she meant alone with Bash, not literally on her own cooped up in her bed all day, which is how Bash left her. It’s a break down in communication that Bash blames on his upbringing. In his family, when anyone got sick, they would be quarantined, he explains. “Migraines aren’t contagious,” says Rhonda. “Emotionally quarantined,” Bash responds. “You were sent away to suffer in private.” That’s not the way Rhonda’s family did things—they comforted each other. It’s a lesson that Bash still needs to learn, and for all of his worrying and unintentional insensitivity, he is trying.
Arthie (Sunita Mani) and Yolanda (Shakira Barrera) are also having communication troubles, specifically, in the bedroom. Their relationship is still new and in that phase where it’s exhilarating but also somewhat awkward. Both women want to present the best versions of themselves while keeping their perceived flaws and idiosyncrasies under wraps. That’s particularly true of Arthie, who is admittedly inexperienced when it comes to romantic relationships, especially a relationship with another woman.
Yolanda doesn’t understand why Arthie never lets her perform oral sex, but instead of discussing the issue, she storms off to the hair salon and vents about “uptight boyfriends” to the hairstylist-cum-therapist. When a confused Arthie arrives, both women begin a passive-aggressive sniping session that almost brings an abrupt end to one of GLOW‘s most interesting and entertaining relationships.
Fortunately, the young lovers end up talking it out. Arthie explains that she didn’t mean to offend Yolanda, it’s just that she’s self-conscious and doesn’t see herself as “sexy.” That makes her feel uncomfortable between the sheets. Yolanda quickly alleviates Arthie’s worries: “You’re so sexy and beautiful. S**t. When I’m in the same room as you, I just want to grab you and pin you to the bed.” No prizes for guessing what happens next.
Meanwhile, Sam (Marc Maron) continues to make himself present in Ruth’s (Alison Brie) life. He persuades her to have some fun on her day off rather than working all the time. Ruth is resistant at first, but the pair end up having a blast—raking in a bunch of cash at the blackjack table and treating themselves to a steak dinner. The hours fly by, and to her surprise, Ruth finds that she’s actually enjoying herself. “This has been the best day ever,” she admits. But when Ruth joins Sam in the hotel hot tub, the mood changes.
Sam tells Ruth that he can’t do this anymore; that he’s been trying his best to keep it all on the line but she’s making it “impossible.” “You must know I’m in love with you,” he says, in a way that almost sounds accusatory. It’s a manipulative turnaround that makes it seem like Ruth has been misleading him, even though Sam was the one that poked and prodded her into joining him on his stroll around Vegas. He thinks they should give it a shot, as in, a relationship. Ruth doesn’t.
It’s hard to know what to make of this story. Individually, both Ruth and Sam are fantastic characters. Even though Sam is a bit of a sleaze, you get the impression he genuinely cares about the women. But the pushing of the romance plot leaves a bad taste. As Ruth points out, he’s almost twice her age, not to mention her boss, and that in itself is an abuse of trust. And yet, it feels like the show is suggesting that Ruth has feelings for Sam too, despite her protestations. That is what makes me the most uncomfortable about where this season might be heading.
Lastly, Debbie is trying to be present too, not with her colleagues, but her family, specifically her 10-month-old son, Randy. As a performer-producer, Debbie struggles to balance both work and home life. She only gets two days per week to fly home and see her little boy—the Teddy Ruxpin doll now communicates more with her son than she does. It’s emotionally taxing, especially missing out on these huge milestones, like her baby’s first steps. “He waited until I was gone?” she cries down the phone to her ex-husband Mark (Rich Sommer).
However, as with everyone else, Debbie is trying her best, which is why she doesn’t take kindly to Brenda the flight attendant’s judgmental comments about how often she sees her kid. The implicit gender bias doesn’t go unnoticed. “Has anyone ever asked you how long you’ve been away from your kids?” Debbie asks the man seated next to her. “No one asks me anything,” he replies. Debbie’s reaction: “Oh god, that sounds amazing.”
Life in Vegas isn’t all drunken pool parties and late-night gambling. Things are tough. Relationships are strained and put to the test. But everyone is trying to help each other through it, even if they’re not all going about it in the right way.
-“White girls can’t take the heat.” God bless Tammé (Kia Stevens) for breaking up that awkward hot tub scene.
-“I know you’re an incredible mom, but my kid is still a baby, and this is dangerous, so you can just keep your f**king wings.” Yeah, take that, Brenda!
-Biggest laugh of the episode: Ruth waving her hands over the cards at the blackjack table like a magician.
GLOW, Streaming, Netflix