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With "The Good Twin," GLOW chooses to wrestle (and sing) like nobody's watching

Illustration for article titled With The Good Twin, em/emiGLOW /ichooses to wrestle (and sing) like nobodys watching
Graphic: Netflix
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Much like “Nothing Shattered” was a necessary GLOW episode for Ruth’s character and the entire G.L.O.W. family, “The Good Twin” is also a necessary episode—just for the simple fact that it lets us finally know what a full episode of this world’s G.L.O.W. looks like. And god, it looks every bit as amazing as one could imagine and expect.


Since the implication is that this is the version of G.L.O.W. that Sam and company make when the chains are off, it makes sense that it’s taken this long for us to finally see a full episode. (While there didn’t necessarily need to be an explanation to finally see the show-within-the-show, it’s a reminder of how deliberate GLOW’s storytelling is that it makes sure there is one.) So from this perspective, with “The Good Twin,” we’re tuning into the best possible week to watch G.L.O.W. So in the world of GLOW, imagine seeing this particular episode at 2 a.m. and having no idea what it is but being captivated. That’s one of the best experiences you can have watching a wrestling show or a sketch comedy show, which is what G.L.O.W. is (and was in real life), a mash-up of both. “The Good Twin” captures that feeling of seeing something strange and new but exciting, even though the audience binge watching technically knows what’s going on.


The thing about “The Good Twin” is that—even more than any GLOW episode—it’s not just instantly rewatchable, rewatching is it actually kind of necessary. For example, there are so many specifically weird and delightful things in “Britannica’s Science Adventure Lab” alone—the GLOWBot is a quote treasure trove—that I could focus the entire review on just the Britannica/Thomas the mannequin/Black Magic storyline. It’s arguably a storyline that could handle a full episode of a legitimate ‘80s sitcom itself too (like an episode of Charles In Charge), which is something to acknowledge about the ability for a half-hour wrestling show to tell multiple stories almost fully (with a “TO BE CONTINUED…” for the next chapter) both inside and outside of the ring. As cheesy as it is, that’s also no easy task.

Nick Jones & Rachel Shukert join forces in their writing efforts—after handling the “weakest” episode of the season so far and the hardest to watch, respectively—to create the funniest episode of the series, chock-full of bits the audience might not even all catch on first time viewing. (The direction for an even more ‘80s-looking episode than usual also needs to be addressed, as Meera Menon has experience with outside-the-box TV episodes after working as a director on Blood Drive as well.) Mostly because the first-time viewing for “The Good Twin” relies a lot on wondering if this is all really happening, especially when it comes to the goat and the fact that GLOW/G.L.O.W. got a goat. (Bash wanted a team dog or ferret, and now there’s a goat.)


“The Good Twin” is also the most similar to “real life G.L.O.W.” episode of the series, since it’s not focused on the behind-the-scenes but instead what these characters are putting out into the world and what their viewers are responding to. The laugh track, the split screen, the special effects budget, the skits, the music videos, the instant replay—it’s all appropriately original G.LO.W., to the point where “The Good Twin” could also be used as an olive branch for those fans and original G.L.O.W. talent who were disappointed to find that GLOW is a loose adaptation as opposed to a biopic. There’s also a hesitation when it comes to people deciding whether they should give GLOW a chance, where there’s a worry the show exists to mock wrestling, the original G.L.O.W., or the ‘80s as a whole. But the show has arguably always showed the proper amount of respect and appreciation for all of these aspects—while still touching on the less great parts of them—and “The Good Twin” captures that feeling. The closest this episode really gets to “mocking” is the kidnapping song riffing on “Do They Know It’s Christmas”/“We Are The World,” and who can get mad at that? Who can get mad at Machu Picchu’s brilliant idea?


Watching the episode-within-the-episode, it’s also the type of thing where you have the series knowledge that this finished product is a labor of love from these characters, as imperfect as it is. The Olga scene once she gets to Hollywood is clearly shot at the burger place near the gym, and besides the touristy bikini t-shirt and her Statue of Liberty hat, there are things like the person in the background clearly wondering what the hell is being filmed with a goat. It’s one of those “little things” to make this episode feel “real,” a bigger version of the mall opening titles sequence filming, or like the fact that the exterior shot of the “evil fortress” on Liberty Belle’s odyssey is Griffith Observatory. The “fuck it” version of G.L.O.W. is the type of DIY filmmaking that Sam understands too, which makes his journey to lovable jerk director of this ragtag bunch of underdogs come full circle, without that being the focus of the episode.

This episode also shows us why the Concerned Women of America could possibly have a problem with G.L.O.W., as both the shower scene and Britannica’s, um, uploading of her brain go on way longer than actually “necessary.” (Speaking of the shower scene, bravo to the obvious man’s arm opening the shower, despite Olga’s arms clearly being covered.) But these are still good stories, as the Britannica/Black Magic storyline is surprisingly compelling and coherent in its bizarre Weird Science approach; and good twin Olga’s journey in her introduction (and final episode) is sympathetic, despite how hacky it is. And as over-the-top as all the skits and music videos are in the episode-within-the-episode, they still show these characters’ ability to tell these stories. Every bit has a purpose for the larger show (Britannica/Black Magic is a full story, Griefercize/“Concerned Citizens Against Kidnapping” are both part of Liberty Belle’s full story) or at least just giving a character more to work with (Melrose’s “Makeover” music video, Beirut’s dance dream).


“The Good Twin” is a hilarious episode of GLOW, but it’s also an impressive one. It’s not making fun of the real G.L.O.W. to want the real, Netflix audience to laugh, because the real G.L.O.W. also wanted its audience to laugh. Instead, this is the perfect love letter to the original series in a way that goes way past just general respect for its legacy. And honestly, this episode reveals that GLOW understands how to make characters work on a wrestling show a lot better than some real wrestling shows do.

Stray observations

  • The big twist at the end of this episode—an episode that already feels like it is the big twist—is when we’re finally taken out of it and back into the “real world” of GLOW. We meet Justine’s mother Rosalie (Annabella Sciorra), seeing her daughter on the small screen and putting the pieces together when she sees those words we don’t typically see: “Directed by Sam Sylvia.”
  • To me, it makes sense that “the good twin” who loves America would have a Dorothy Hamill haircut.
  • Sam’s problem before—when Bash mentioned a possible wedding stunt—was that G.L.O.W. is all women, but now he has no problem being in the show, along with Bash, Russell, and Phil.
  • I imagine the first thing Rhonda pitched when Sam told the girls they could do whatever they wanted was to ride a horse. She gets GLOWBot back too, in a tour de force role for the drug-dealing robot.
  • Arthie, on the other hand, clearly did not get “Phoenix,” but the compromise with the absolutely beautiful dance with Yolanda (as the Fred Astaire to Arthie’s Ginger Rogers) of Beirut’s dreams makes up for it.
  • “GRIEFERCIZE WITH LIBERTY BELLE” Debbie snapping and selling all of her furniture turned out to be a really smart choice, as now they’re able to just decorate it with an American flag to sell this bit. The things Betty Gilpin is able to do with her face as Liberty Belle are unreal, and honestly? I’m kind of worried her face might get stuck that way one of these days.
  • Junk Chain: “They canceled Charles In Charge!” Well this is of course because Melrose lost her lucky jacket—we know how powerful that was when it came to Scott Baio. But clearly he must have made a deal with Black Magic, because the show came back from cancellation in 1987.
  • Olga: “Walter Disney! Mickey Rourke—aaooga!” Sure, Mickey Rourke was “aaooga!” big in the ‘80s, but considering his role in The Wrestler, this line can can also work as a tip of the hat to that.
  • It’s pretty funny that after a season of learning to wrestle just to get close to her dad, Justine gets stuck always being “teen” in random G.L.O.W. bits.
  • The commercial for Quilting Bee Easy is the biggest pay-off of the series, and wow, that show looks boring as hell.
  • Bash actually gets a win after “Perverts Are People, Too,” as his ‘maybe, sort of, hopefully’ promise of his family’s company becoming the new sponsor for the show actually comes through.
  • A Welfare Queen doll for $9.99 sounds good, but I’m still waiting for a real life Beebo toy.
  • Don’t kidnap / Kidnapping is wrong to do” Sheila on the keyboard, of course.
  • “Sorry, no C.O.D.s.” Hearing that (with that blue call screen) made my entire childhood flash before my eyes.
  • No wonder Sheila the She-Wolf is so popular: She’ll easily be the breakout comedy star of G.L.O.W. Also, if only Ruth could have just cooked Tom Grant and ate him, like Sheila does the poor, handsy goat.
  • First of all, Liberty Belle is such a bad mom she literally only has one picture of her precious daughter. Second of all: “1-1-1-1-1-1-2.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.

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