(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Season 2 of GLOW. Read at your own risk.)
For the most part, GLOW's second season is a fun-filled ride with big hair, technicolor tights and some fiercely catchy '80s tunes. But the wrestling comedy also hit harder this year, tackling heavy topics like sexual harassment. For Tamme (Kia Stevens), whose day job is that of wrestler Welfare Queen, the continuing struggle of perpetuating a painfully offensive stereotype through her Welfare Queen gimmick came to a head in one of the season's most heartbreaking scenes.
After a well-fought battle against Liberty Belle, a tense in-ring segment in the fourth episode saw Debbie (Betty Gilpin) corral the crowd into chanting "get a job" at Tamme who left the ring in tears. It's an uncomfortable moment that nearly turned Liberty Belle into the villain of the story, but also hit way too close to home for Tamme.
"We know that Tamme has worked hard all her life," Kia Stevens explained to TV Guide. "And from the many jobs that she's held, it doesn't sound like she's [received] a dime of welfare money in her life though as a single mother, especially a black single mother, I'm sure others assumed that. For her to work so hard throughout her life and in that moment be what other people probably assumed all her life that she was, was extremely hard for her. Especially since she knows and her son knows she's anything but that."
The humiliating moment was quickly followed by a heart-to-heart with her son, providing some much-needed insight into why Tamme has stuck with the character despite the pain the comes with it, and on a larger scale, why the wrestling world has been able to get away with such offensive gimmicks: it's just so darn entertaining!
Both scenes speak to the beauty of the show which, while giving audiences a firsthand look at the psychological trauma a racist chant might have, has the incredible ability to make you laugh it off in the very next scene. According to Stevens, tackling these sensitive issues with humor is the only way to go.
"It's important to bring up issues like this, but not to polarize people and make them uncomfortable," Stevens added. "I think that's the best way to do something like that, to inform people of events happening around them through comedy."
And now when we've seen Tamme struggle, Stevens revealed that her hope for Tamme, should the show get renewed for Season 3, is that we also get to see her succeed.
"I feel that Tamme has a lot of ideas. Throughout her life, she's always found a way to [overcome] any obstacle that came her way. I wanna see her put her ideas into practice and really succeed at them because I think she has it in her," she said. Same, Kia, Same.
Season 2 of GLOW is currently streaming on Netflix.