Five years ago today, GLOW (the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling to the uninitiated) premiered on Netflix. The comedy-drama was a fictionalized version of an actual series, set in the 1980s, and featured a hilarious, complex ensemble cast of predominately women. It was one of the few shows I could count on making me laugh and cry during most every episode as the characters ended up on both the literal and metaphorical ropes.
Despite being renewed for a fourth season, the show was canceled in October 2020 due to the pandemic and high production costs, as per Deadline. According to The Hollywood Reporter, costs of GLOW had ballooned up to $8 to 12 million dollars per episode, and that would have been before personal protective equipment. They also feared that the three year gap between the third season in 2019 and the fourth in 2022 would be too long. Funnily enough, Stranger Things had the same gap between its third and fourth seasons and, as per the Wall Street Journal, cost around $30 million dollars per episode during Season 4. While GLOW was never the blockbuster that Stranger Things still is, its fanbase was loyal (the series even spawned a comic miniseries!) and Netflix’s spending priorities remain questionable. Also—may I remind you that Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” features in the heart-wrenching penultimate episode of GLOW? Take that, Duffer Brothers.
The show’s third and unintentionally final season left us with plenty of questions for the next to answer, and even if it hadn’t, it was a fun world to be in, regardless of plot. Now let’s dive into five burning questions about GLOW that still haunt us:
The writers of GLOW always knew better than to make Sam and Ruth’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship too central to the show, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care! In case you’ve forgotten, at the end of Season 3 aspiring actor Ruth (Alison Brie) had confessed she was in love with curmudgeonly director Sam (Marc Maron), but before they could sleep together he told her that she wasn’t cast in his daughter Justine’s film. Unsurprisingly, that news wasn’t exactly an aphrodisiac, and there was a great big question mark left between them.
Honestly, I’m not that picky about whether they’d decide to go back to being just friends or starting a romantic relationship; I just love seeing Brie and Maron opposite each other. Their arc from begrudging co-workers to close friends to… whatever they ended up as was so compelling to watch because of the actors’ chemistry. Ruth is an amped up chihuahua, ready to run circles around those next to her, while Sam is an old mutt who just wants to nap in the sun. Who knows, maybe in Season 4 they would’ve gotten a Lady and the Tramp moment, spaghetti and all.
This one’s a real heartbreaker. Last we saw, Bash (Chris Lowell), the spoiled rich kid with a heart of gold, was grappling with his identity as a gay man and the fact that his wife, Rhonda (Kate Nash), was now aware of his sexual orientation. Instead of properly talking about it, though, Bash tried to smooth everything over by misguidedly saying he just wanted Rhonda and they should start a family.
Obviously that’s not a great idea, and it seemed when Bash went to talk to Rhonda in the finale that she was open to a real conversation, before he led the way with family talk (which we don’t even know if she actually wants). In my fantasy, they move back to Los Angeles and happily live separate lives (while maintaining their marriage for her visa), but of course it would never be so simple. Rhonda clearly loves Bash, even if their marriage was one of convenience, and there would be real hurt from their split. And coming out would be far from easy, especially at the height of the AIDS epidemic. But if anyone can make an outsider feel welcome, it’s the ladies of GLOW.
Okay, so maybe Ruth’s not in the movie, but we’re still interested in seeing how Justine (Britt Baron) and Sam work together on her film. The father and daughter’s relationship has been rocky to say the least, but seemed very solid when we left them, with Sam officially adopting Justine (for inheritance purposes, he insists) and also prioritizing her preferences when it came to making the movie.
Considering Sheila’s newfound interest in acting, it would be cool if she had been cast in one of the smaller parts in the film, adding another GLOW regular to film set scenes and some conflict between her and Ruth. And while Justine and Sam were on good terms last we saw them, making a movie together can certainly put that to the test.
Yolanda (Shakira Barrera) and Arthie (Sunita Mani) made such a cute couple. Yolanda’s confidence and Arthie’s nerdy enthusiasm complemented each other well. And while the couple split up in Season 3, in part because Arthie was not comfortable being out, the finale gave us some hope that they might get back together as Arthie proudly embraced her identity as a lesbian.
I love the thought of Arthie trying to woo Yolanda and win her back, as only the earnest Arthie could. But also, as any queer person will tell you, it is entirely possible that they could’ve instead become really close friends who still value each other and keep in contact.
I’ll admit it, I was saving the biggest one for last. This question encapsulates so many others. When we left the ladies of GLOW at the end of Season 3, they were all parting ways with their own plans because Debbie (Betty Gilpin, goddess) had to keep her and Bash’s deal to buy the TV station under wraps. Debbie told Ruth about it, though, and the fact that Ruth could be a director, an opportunity she turned down in favor of her white whale-like pursuit of an acting career. Carmen also had her own plans to head off on the road to wrestle.
So how would they get everyone to reunite? Getting the gang back together montages are some of my favorites, but this would’ve probably taken at least an episode or two to play out properly. And how would Debbie tempt Ruth to come back—with additional acting opportunities at the station, maybe? Then there comes the prospect of new characters for the ladies to create, since they didn’t own the rights to the old ones. Not only would this have been a nice way to hit refresh for the show, but the women could’ve also distance themselves from the trope-y, discriminatory personas they were originally boxed into. It’s a shame we were denied such a moment.
GLOW is streaming on Netflix.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.