Warning: spoilers ahead for season three of GLOW!
On the surface, Netflix's GLOW promises to chronicle the campy misadventures of a wrestling show set in Las Vegas, but what the recently released third season actually gives us is an emotional punch to the gut in the form of Sebastian "Bash" Howard (Chris Lowell).
Bash finds himself wrestling with his identity after he learns that his childhood friend and butler, Florian, lost his life to an AIDS-related bout of pneumonia. The news leads to an impulse marriage to Rhonda "Britannica" Richardson (Kate Nash) — a move that confuses his cast and coworkers. Yet, the audience knows the truth behind this decision comes from his unwillingness to be seen in the same light as his fallen friend.
The third season of GLOW doesn't have Bash formally come out as gay or reveal the full nature of his relationship with Florian — although like the previous season, the issue of Bash's sexuality is addressed through context clues such as his reply to Rhonda about the state of their marriage: "I love you. And, hey, I'd wanna stay married to you even if we never had sex ever again."
However, Bash does eventually confess to Debbie "Liberty Belle" Eagan his reason for avoiding a full self-examination of his sexuality: "I don't want to die." The brutally honest admission is heartbreaking and contextualizes Bash's erratic behavior over the show's last two seasons — from the bleaching of his home in season two to his snappish reaction in season three when drag entertainer Bobby Barnes (Kevin Cahoon) suggests his union to Rhonda is a marriage of convenience.
The show's choice to address Bash's internal conflict in an indirect manner, though disheartening and painful, makes thematic sense based on the show's 1985 setting, where the truth about homosexuality and HIV/AIDS has not yet reached the public consciousness. We just hope that if GLOW renews for a fourth season, Bash will find peace with his choices.