The Wrestling Episode is our cleverly-named feature wherein we watch non-wrestling shows with wrestling episodes and try to figure out what the hell’s going on in them. You’d be surprised how many there are. You can watch the episode on Netflix here. If you have any suggestions on shows that need to be featured in The Wrestling Episode, let us know in our comments section below.
I’ve Never Heard Of GLOW. What Is It?
Back in 1986, a sports announcer with a penchant for getting niche sports onto the Real Sports Channel used what he learned from working with Dick the Bruiser in Indianapolis to create G.L.O.W., the “gorgeous ladies of wrestling,” a televised women’s wrestling promotion that leaned all the way the hell in on stereotype and lowest common denominator entertainment. He brought in a film director to direct the show — a real film director, who’d done everything from blaxploitation pictures to filming United Nations informational videos to working with Orson Welles — who more or less turned the show into foxy boxing plus lowbrow Vaudeville comedy sketches. Incredibly the show was a hit, capitalizing on the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling boom of the day and even working in the most 1980s thing in history, the Chicago Bears’ ‘Superbowl Shuffle’ rapping, on literally every episode.
Back in the long long ago of the mid-2010s, a pair of writers and producers from shows like Weeds and Nurse Jackie watched a (really great) documentary about the promotion and, somehow, decided to turn it into prestige television. It worked, and now the very best original show on Netflix is a fictionalized account of a women’s wrestling Hee-Haw from the ’80s from people who never watched the old show but created a three-dimensional, pitch-perfect understanding of everything about it and the people who performed it. Just an absolute gem.
And There’s A Wrestling Episode?
I mean, technically every GLOW is a “wrestling episode,” but we’re going to focus on the creative Inception that is season 2 episode 8, ‘The Good Twin.’ Netflix’s GLOW is about the production of the real-life G.L.O.W. TV, but this episode is an episode of G.L.O.W. inside an episode of GLOW. Matches, vignettes, music videos, commercials, all of it.
Since this is still a new episode of a show not everyone has watched but might like to, I’m going to approach it based solely on the characters as portrayed in the episode, avoiding a lot of spoilers from season 1 and 2 for the characters playing the wrestlers. There are some incidental spoilers we can’t avoid, but mostly you’ll be fine reading ahead whether you’ve watched the show or not.
There are two matches and two major plots for the episode: Britannica, the smartest woman in the world, being turned into an idiot for love by the voodoo priestess Black Magic, and southern American hero Liberty Belle dealing with the abduction of her daughter, Savannah Rose, by the evil Russian Zoya the Destroyer. Honestly, now that I typed that out, it sounds like more like an episode of Lucha Underground than an episode of G.L.O.W. TV. The only real story arc that show ever got was “there are good girls and bad girls and they’re all kinda the same.”
But yeah, the first and easiest to explain story is that Britannica has a science lab because she’s smart, and she’s trying to turn a mannequin into a human being — “from hunk of plastic to hunk of man” — because that’s the only way she’s going to find love. She’s able to bring a rubber chicken to life but not Thomas The Mannequin … that is, until Black Magic teleports in. Black Magic offers her a deal: she’ll bring Thomas to life if Britannica gives up her brains, because to find true love with a man you have to give up all your other talents, skills and ambitions.
Britannica tries to safeguard herself by “downloading her brain” onto a very 1986 floppy disc and tying a string around her finger to remember. The only problem is that now she’s too stupid to remember anything, and she’s so busy having corny romantic love montage fun around scenic 1980s Los Angeles with Thomas that she mistakes it for an engagement ring.
How In The World Do You Book This?
… was that you throwing extremely dated shade at the World Book Encyclopedia for being the dumbed down version of Encyclopedia Britannica for Americans?
All the clicks!
But to answer your question, a helpful neighbor — “It’s me, Lisa, the teenager who lives next door.” — notices the string on dumbed-down Britannica and reminds her that people tie strings around their fingers to remember things! Britannica’s robot assistant (who may or may not be full of drugs at the time of filming) presents the floppy, and Britannica “downloads” her brain by, uh … shoving the disc up her vagina.
Black Magic returns and realizes Britannica has reneged on the agreement by being smart enough to have crotch brains, or whatever, and turns Thomas back into a mannequin. Now they must have a wrestling match about it!
This Is The Best Wrestling Show Ever.
I know, right?
Britannica kicks Black Magic’s ass until Magic rips off Thomas’ mannequin arm and starts beating her up with it. When the referee tries to break it up, Black Magic possesses him with EVIL VOODOO MAGICKS and makes him believe he’s a cat. I love that these paragraphs just keep escalating. But yeah, there’s no way to come back from that, and another mystical voodoo dust cloud stuns Britannica and sets her up for a goddamn Dominator.
Black Magic is victorious, love is dead, and all Britannica’s left with is a literally broken ex-lover and some A+ wordplay.
So What Was That You Said About Russian Kidnapping?
In an attempt to rehab top babyface Liberty Belle after a really horribly booked angle with the Welfare Queen, Glow (again, the show based on the real show being adapted into a new show that is technically neither) had the evil Russian Zoya the Destroyer kidnap Liberty’s daughter, Savannah Rose Belle. In a scene with imagery straight out of the original show, Zoya calls home and tells her identical (and “good”) twin Olga about the kidnapping, saying she is keeping Savannah Rose “in fortress guarded by minion” and plans to “indoctrinate her into Marxist thought and sell her highest bidder.” My favorite thing of the entire episode may be them getting Zoya to say the word “minion,” since her Russian voice is basically Gru from Despicable Me.
Olga — whose “only discernible difference” from Zoya is a “foot deformity” and a pretty hilarious wig — decides that since she’s the good twin, she has to travel to America (via goat) and let poor Liberty Belle in on these new bits of information.
What’s Liberty Belle Up To?
Oh my God, I’m so happy you asked.
She’s leading her fellow GLOW Good Girls in a round of “Griefercize,” a grief-based aerobics program that looks to “sweat those sorrows away.” I just want to take a second to mention how fucking hilarious Betty Gilpin is in this episode. It’s seriously one of the best one-episode comedic performances I’ve ever seen. Here she is Griefercizing the pain away in what might be the best GIF I ever make:
After a brief infatuation with the United States and our storied culture, Olga randomly confronts Liberty Belle in the shower and lets her know what’s up: her daughter is being held in a suspiciously familiar looking fortress filmed from very far away, guarded by Asian stereotype “Fortune Cookie” and Arab stereotype “Beirut the Mad Bomber.” It’s ONE VERSUS ALL, in case getting booed for beating a heel didn’t already make Liberty Belle seem enough like Roman Reigns.
So Liberty Belle Has To Break Into Griffith Observatory To Save Her Daughter?
Yes, but before that the entire cast of G.L.O.W. within Glow within GLOW literally band together to record a ‘We Are The World’-style super-song PSA about how you shouldn’t kidnap. It’s called ‘Don’t Kidnap.’ I’d say the best part is the fact that Zoya’s there singing with them for some reason, but the best part is ALL THE PARTS.
♫ Don’t kidnap
Kidnapping is wrong to do
Kidnappers, we’re beggin’ you!
Let the children run and play
And the ones you’ve got, let them get away
Then go find something else to do ♫
Here’s the best version of the song currently available on YouTube, because those monsters at Netflix don’t have money in the budget for an HD upload. Keep an eye out for Liberty Belle once again hilariously killing it with her singing mannerisms.
But Then The Fortress
Liberty Belle manages to sneak past the guards when Fortune Cookie has to use the bathroom, and Beirut gets sleepy and daydreams about how she used to want to be a dancer. Inside, we find out that it’s been a trap, all along. Like kidnapping! Liberty Belle runs into Vicky Viking, who teams up with Fortune Cookie and Beirut to beat her down 3-on-1.
Of course, the heels make a crucial mistake when they tear up Liberty Belle’s “only picture” of Savannah Rose, causing her to use a Mother’s Love like Spartan Rage. Cue the entrance theme. Belle’s able to choke out Vicky, get the combination to the “safe” containing her daughter — a gym locker with the word SAFE written on it — and the greatest character on fictional television on a real television show you watch on your phone and computer runs away like the perfect mix of Disney princess and complete maniac.
Give her a damn Emmy, seriously.
Is That It?
Give her an Academy Award too, fuck it.
I Meant On The Show
Oh, not quite. To thank Olga for helping her rescue Savannah Rose, Liberty Belle gives her money to have foot surgery and fix her horrible deformity. But wait just a minute, folks, it turns out the doctors performing the surgery are EVIL and RUSSIAN and one of them is Zoya herself. That’s what you get for loving America, stupid!
This scene sets up the actual end reveal of the episode and carries some big emotional weight for the characters on the actual show, so I’ll leave it there and let you catch up and watch it for yourself.
Don’t Forget The Loose Ends!
Two, less important side stories:
1. While Olga’s reveling in American culture, she buys tickets to the Broadway show Cats. Since she can’t go because of the whole “remembering she came here to help a lady with a kidnapping,” Olga’s goat instead goes with GLOW girl Sheila The She-Wolf, who complains about there not being any actual cats in the show. The goat then attempts to sexually harass her into sleeping with it, so she kills and eats it. I’d joke about how absurd that entire paragraph is, but you read the rest of the column, didn’t you?
2. The other fun bit is a music video for Melrose, a “rip-off of Madonna” who sings about how she tried to take her friends to a club, they got turned away because they were ugly, so she gave them all makeovers. The highlight here is a billion percent Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia dad-dancing in the background for two seconds.
So What Have We Learned?
- GLOW is the best show on TV and it’s barely close
- Netflix should greenlight a GLOW spinoff that’s just every episode of the wrestling show they make
- Betty Gilpin is a national treasure who deserves all the awards
- You aren’t getting into a 1980s dance club if you don’t tease your hair and cover yourself in glitter
- You shouldn’t kidnap people
- seriously, don’t