I wasn’t a big fan of Netflix’s “GLOW.” Despite all the promise of the premise, which is to tell the origin story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling in the 1980s, the first two seasons left me cold. I didn’t feel as though I was getting to know any of the many characters; the pacing was too brisk, the writing too scattered and dependent on visual spectacle. It was a shallow take on the ensemble scope and variety of “Orange Is the New Black.”
So I went into season 3 with an attitude. And I finished it with relief. It felt like a different show, with multi-episode arcs devoted to each of the characters. Some of those arcs were more satisfying than others, my favorite being the coming out of Sheila as a not-she-wolf, but all together they gave the season a much-needed depth. The characters now have three-dimensional relationships with one another, since they have history together. The third season makes the first two look introductory.
I was particularly impressed with the ongoing exploration of producer Bash’s sexuality. Played with unexpected drama by Chris Lowell, Bash is in that tricky spot many gay people have found themselves — aware of their sexual desires, but afraid of the social and economic implications. And because “GLOW” is set during the first years of AIDS, he feels an extra sense of terror.
Also engaging: The on-and-off between Marc Maron’s Sam and Alison Brie’s Ruth. Generally speaking, will-they-or-won’t-they relationships in comedies drive me crazy. But these two characters — and actors — are atypical and interesting enough to make it work.
Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert at globe.com.