TV Review | GLOW | Season 1, Episode 5 | "Debbie Does Something"
Episode Summary: Debbie attends her first wrestling match and has a major epiphany. Meanwhile, Ruth finally finds inspiration for her alter ego.
A really good episode this time out, with a lot of characters getting some good stuff to work with that makes you overlook just how slowly the main plot is still progressing – well, taking the main plot as the wrestling show Sam and Bash want to make, but I think it’s become clear that the title of this series is literally referring to the women rather than what they’re trying to make.
The episode opens with Melrose being caught sneaking back into the motel by Cherry and warned that she’ll be fired next time she’s caught. I’ll have to admit that I enjoyed seeing Mel get upset as she’s been comfortably the most annoying character so far.
The action moves on to the girls practising, with Carmen throwing Ruth around and gaining applause thanks to their great work together - much to Debbie’s irritation. Bash and Sam then introduce her to Glen, the network executive, and she tries to impress him but doesn’t feel successful.
Sam tries to sell Glen on women’s wrestling, saying they’ll be challenging female stereotypes and looking hot (while being family-friendly), and Glen tells him that he’s found the show a potential sponsor in Patio Town, but Sam isn’t impressed.
Debbie practises her character in her room, desperate to at least match up to her former best friend, before meeting her parents in a restaurant the next day to discuss how she’s doing and leave her baby with them when Ruth comes in, who makes an excuse and leaves.
Ruth goes to see the motel manager about their broken TV, but he refuses to do anything about it and makes an ‘In Soviet Union’ meme joke, which is pretty funny, but does stand out a little as feeling too much like a line that was written for an audience rather than something a real person would actually say.
The action then switches to Justine, who calls Melrose and asks if she wants to split a pizza so she can see the hunky delivery driver (who walks in slow-motion to 80s music). Her plan… doesn’t go to plan and she groans after being unable to talk to him, although is excited that he left his number on the box.
Sam then takes Rhonda and Ruth on a field trip, leaving Debbie annoyed – she talks with Carmen and says the thinks wrestling is stupid, but Carmen says that its exaggerated and asks her if she’s ever seen a wrestling match.
Sam and the girls arrive at an event for the potential sponsor, Patio Town, and meets their CEO, who says that Glen is just a golf buddy and doesn’t want to sponsor women’s wrestling.
Bash gets Sam to talk him around by pointing out that, while their main customers might well be women, there are still a lot of guys there who would be interested, and gets Rhonda to strip down to her skimpy ring gear.
The CEO then has a ribbon-cutting event interrupted by Ruth using a memetic Russian gimmick, which Bash wants to stop but Sam keeps him from interfering and encourages the crowd to jeer her. The crowd and Sam eat it up, with Bash quickly figuring out what’s going on and joining in, and the event is a success, with Ruth having finally found her character and really enjoying getting the reaction she did.
Back at the motel, Melrose spots Debbie and Carmen leaving for the night – with Debbie overly done up for where they’re headed – and asks if she can come with them, although wary of Cherry’s threat from earlier.
Sam and the girls have a burger, with Ruth continuing her Russian gimmick to Sam’s great delight as USA v USSR is a great rivalry, but Debbie is playing the ideal American hero and wouldn’t want to wrestle her. Rhonda gets irritated at the attention Sam is giving Ruth and says that she needs to pee, asking Sam if he wants to watch her.
He says no, which frustrates her further and she leaves with Ruth figuring out that the two have slept together, but Sam says Ruth can’t really criticise him after having sex with her best friend’s husband. He asks her why she did it, and says that he does dumb shit when he feels like shit, but she seems like a decent person.
This is probably my favourite scene of the series so far, with a lot of humour and some serious character work between Sam and Ruth, with the audience getting to see more than one side of them.
We get reminded that, while Ruth may be the central character, she did do something awful even if she feels bad about it. And we get to see that no matter how Sam might usually treat her, he does genuinely like Ruth and thinks that she’s a better person than she thinks she is.
Aside from the wrestling event that dominates the remainder of the episode – where Debbie bored and Melrose loses her mind at the sight of a moonsault – the only other scene is the pizza guy showing up again with a delivery for her roommate, who quickly makes her excuses and leaves the two to get it on.
It's nice to flesh out the supporting cast, but right now, this seems as much like filler as the (unfunny) running gag throughout the episode of a couple of the ladies making prank calls to the others.
After that brief interlude, the rest of the episode focuses on Debbie and her experience at the wrestling, where she has a sudden realisation that it’s all really just a soap opera after Carmen explains the typically-convoluted backstory to the Steel Horse and Mr Monopoly rivalry in the main event – and soap opera is something she knows how to do.
After the match finishes, Carmen takes them backstage to meet Steel Horse, who recognises Debbie from TV and admits he’s a huge fan, talking at length to her about how wrestlers work together to sell angles. Debbie lets the others take her car so she can get it on with Steel Horse, after it has become obvious that we’re going to see Debbie vs Ruth at some point down the line.
The next morning, Cherry then catches Debbie sneaking back into the motel and asks if Steel Horse lives up to his name (Melrose ratted her out), but Debbie says it was weird after only sleeping with her husband for so many years. It’s a nice little touch to add some warmth to her character after a couple of episodes positioning her as nothing but a bad guy.
Debbie then calls Sam, who thought it was Dawn prank-calling, and says she needs a great heel and Sam should find her one. We all know where this is going to end up, but hopefully the journey to that point is a little less predictable.
"Debbie Does Something" is a really good episode that is GLOW’s best effort so far. After the really poor second episode, it’s been on a continuous upward trend and it will be interesting to see if that trajectory continues considering we’re only just at the halfway point.