When the first season of “GLOW” premiered last summer, the Netflix series fictionalizing the birth of an actual all-female wrestling show quickly became a favorite among critics and viewers. Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron led the largely female cast through 10 episodes that juggled comedy, drama and the theatrics of wrestling with great success, and now they’re back.
Ahead of the second season premiere, we spoke with Rebekka Johnson who, along with frequent collaborator Kimmy Gatewood, plays half of the wrestling tag-team the “Beantown Biddies.”
Johnson and Gatewood’s Dawn Rivecca and Stacey Beswick are two of the series’ highlights, largely due to showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch’s writing. Yet the pair’s sketch comedy background, which played a huge role in the duo’s creation, is just as effective. Hence why they were able to put their improv skills to good use again in season 2.
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“They definitely took our sketch background into account for season 2,” she says. “You’ll get to see us play more than just the Beantown Biddies. They gave us a lot of leeway with these other characters that we get to play. They’re revealed pretty early in the season, but it was really exciting for Kimmy and I to get to figure out new characters.”
Wrestling and comedy notwithstanding, “GLOW” is also very much a show of the current #MeToo and #TimesUp zeitgeist in Hollywood. Yes, the first season preceded the publicized allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K., but the show itself is about women struggling in the entertainment industry during the ‘80s. Season 1 is chock-full of storylines reminiscent of the current moment, and season 2 will have even more of them.
“‘GLOW’ is addressing the problem in its own way. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements didn’t invent the problem. They’re just shining a light on it so that we can hopefully make it stop,” Johnson explains. “While we were shooting the first season, and when they were writing it, the movement was underground. It wasn’t named yet.”
Johnson notes that “there’s been a shift in America, when it comes to discussing sexual assault and sexual harassment.” Primarily because the people who have experienced, or are still experiencing, assault or harassment “are coming out and talking about what they’ve experienced.”
“‘GLOW’ is just part of that movement,” she says, and she’s totally correct. New series like AMC’s “Dietland” are also a part of these movements in the industry. Even so, that “GLOW” exists now is a testament to what’s happening. For not only is the cast principally comprised of women, but so too is the creative team that resides off screen.
“It’s such an inspirational place to work,” says Johnson, who along with Gatewood, is working on “Consent,” a thematically relevant short film. “I’m a person who directs, writes, produces and acts. In so many of my other jobs, I haven’t been surrounded by women. It’s usually a lot of men with a few women peppered in there. It’s so awesome how many women are a part of this process, both behind and in front of the camera. It really makes for a safe environment.”
“GLOW” season 2 premieres Friday, June 29 on Netflix.