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TV Review | GLOW | Season 1, Episode 7 | "Live Studio Audience"

Debbie (Betty Gilpin) prepares for the big finish as Liberty Belle in GLOW

Episode Summary: As the women prepare for their first live match, Debbie and Ruth seek outside help with their moves, and Rhonda gives Sam a good-luck gift.

GLOW is turning out to be a bit of a roller-coaster in terms of quality from episode to episode, with one poor show last time sandwiched between two great outings, with "Live Studio Audience" possibly being the best episode yet.

The episode starts with plenty of energy, the ladies trying to sell tickets to their first wrestling event, with Sheila the She-Wolf dragging in a guy called Rob - who looks like a gothic vampire wannabe - and telling the others the he is bringing his entire 'coven' to the show. The girls then check out the line-up of matches for their first event, with Cherry not amused that the only two black women have been put into a tag-team together.

We then see Sam and Bash discussing the event and what’s still needed to get ready. Sam brings up the stolen camera from the end of the last episode, with Bash saying a new one will have to come out of Sam’s salary, prompting Sam to head out of his office to where the ladies are training and demand the camera’s return, saying if one of them took it, they’re fired – Justine looks justifiably scared at this, although we still don't know why she took it.

Cherry shows Ruth and Debbie some moves for their match, but Debbie wants something more daring and visits Ruth later that day and says they need to do something special. This is probably the first time that both sides of Debbie - victim and arrogant - that actually blends the two, with her being rude to Cherry, but also playing off her reluctance at having to work with Ruth.

Cherry complains about Debbie to her husband, Keith, who cheers her up by revealing he’s going to be the referee for GLOW. It's a small scene and just seems like Bash being prudent like in Sam's office, but it does set things up nicely for later in the episode.

The next day, Debbie and Ruth visit Carmen’s family to hopefully learn some exciting moves from her wrestling brothers, with Debbie turning down a number of moves until she decides that she wants to learn how to leap from the top turnbuckle and land on Ruth.

Again, another quick scene with Cherry follows as she talks to Tammé to complain about their opponents, Dawn and Stacey, who are playing two old white women. If I haven't made it clear yet, I really like Sydelle Noel as Cherry and her appearances don't seem like much this episode until the end and it just makes me hope there's a lot more of her later in the season.

Ruth and Debbie start practicing for their match, but just aren’t good together and don't make any progress until they take turns with Carmen’s brothers and then improve quickly. There’s a fun montage of the two practising alone at the training facility and with Carmen’s brothers, planning out routines for their match. While enjoyable, it does feel like this scene forgets that Debbie really doesn't like Ruth and they get on a little too well for me.

We then visit Rhonda and Sam talking in bed, with Rhonda hopping off to look through his drawers for extra pieces for her costume. She then asks if she can put a video on of herself, with Sam eagerly agreeing only for it to turn out to be Rhonda rapping – although he admits it is catchy. Considering there has been nudity in earlier episodes, it wouldn't have been surprising if it had been something 'naughty', but this also ends up playing into the ending.

It's then time (finally!) for the first GLOW event, with Sam turning up only to find out Bash is doing things on the cheap and Sam is announcing the event, to his great annoyance. He makes a quick visit to the locker room to speak to the girls although his 'speech' isn't exactly inspiring, ending up speaking with Rhonda when Justine tries to frame her as the thief – unsuccessfully. It's made clear that Sam has figured out Justine took the camera, but he doesn't act on it, wondering why Justine has it in for Rhonda, who says that she's just jealous.

Sam (Marc Maron) looks on proudly in GLOW

The event starts with Vicky the Viking vs Carmen as Machu Picchu, who comes out looking absolutely terrified before running off – Bash follows her outside where Carmen collapses, saying she feels like she’s having a heart attack. Considering how light the tone of this episode has been so far, this felt like a huge moment.

Backstage, Dawn and her partner Stacey worry about their match with Cherry and Tammé, worried about their new gimmick and that they’ll be recognised under their outfits - white gowns and hoods like the KKK. Sam – not aware of their new gimmick – introduces them as Ethel and Edna the Beatdown Biddies, with them coming out yelling about white power and segregation.

Keith's pissed off reaction is perfectly priceless and the audience boo like mad until the black duo come out to applause. The match goes on until Tammé tears off one of the robes and sends the other team running back to the locker room. This whole sequence was absolutely hysterical, from Sam and Keith's reaction to how the match unfolded. It would've been the highlight of the season so far, if it hadn't been surpassed only a few minutes later.

Before that, it's a trip back outside, where Carmen is being checked by a paramedic. He says that she's fine and just suffering from extreme emotional distress, with Bash reassuring her by saying everyone suffers from that. Carmen is briefly confused before Bash reveals to her that his mum has cut off the cash that he'd been spending to pay for GLOW, which is why everything on the night is being done on the cheap.

In the main event, Debbie comes out to cheers as Liberty Belle, Ruth following to boos as Zoya the Destroyer, with a boombox playing Soviet music as she marches around the ring. The girls trash talk each other before the match gets underway. It goes really well, with Keith pretending to tell off Zoya at one point, actually admitting that they’re doing great and that he hopes they know what they're doing because he doesn't!

Liberty Belle turns things around to huge cheers – even the goths brought by Sheila's friend Rob joining in as they get caught up in the atmosphere. Debbie then goes for the big finish from the turnbuckle, but spots her husband Mark and freezes. Ruth plays for time with more trash talk, but Debbie leaves the ring and argues with Mark in the locker room. He hands her divorce papers and storms out, leaving her in tears in the locker room.

Back in the ring, the crowd are booing and getting bored at the match's abrupt ending until Rhonda grabs the mic, jumps in the ring and starts singing her song from the video, with the other girls all joining in until the crowd starts clapping along as the music swells and Sam looks on happily.

It's one of the most perfect feel-good endings to an episode of television that I can remember seeing, and is helped that every single part of the episode, directly or indirectly, is built towards making it happen - even Cherry and Tammé's subplot helps lighten the tone so the ending doesn't feel too sickly sweet.

"Live Studio Audience" is GLOW's best effort yet, with the entire episode dedicated towards building up the wrestling show and leading towards that fantastic ending. It's taken a while to get to this point, but it definitely feels worth it.


One final note: this episode is dedicated to Chavo Guerrero Sr, who passed away this year. If you don't know who he is, you really should and it feels appropriate that his dedication came after the show's best scene so far, and from inside a wrestling ring at that.



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