GLOW's Jackie Tohn on Melrose's emotional season 3 journey: 'When I read the scripts I was weeping'
GLOW may be moving to Las Vegas in season 3, but the nonstop party is finally ending for Melrose (Jackie Tohn).
The resident party animal of Netflix’s wrestling troupe has always been the sarcastic comedic relief of the group, but season 3 finds the normally carefree spirit adjusting to life in Sin City in a way that fans definitely won’t be expecting, because it may seem completely out of character for her.
“The most exciting part of moving to Vegas was, in my opinion, for Melrose,” Tohn tells EW. “She’s the party animal. She lives her life in a real Vegas way even when she was in L.A. Lots of screwing and drugs and partying. She was a very Vegas-y party girl when she was in L.A. and now they’re in Vegas and it feels like for her, there’s potential for that to amp up to the nth degree. And it does. But you’ll see that she sort of gets over it.”
While Melrose does begin the season loving the move to Vegas, Tohn teases that it quickly takes a turn after some early season 3 events. “Of all the girls, she wants to get the f— out of Vegas,” Tohn says. “Everyone else rises to her level of debauchery. It’s craziness. She doesn’t stand out anymore as the exciting, crazy party girl anymore.”
Melrose’s character evolution is something that Tohn never saw coming, but she’s extremely grateful for the emotional journey she goes on this season.
“She does a lot of growing,” Tohn says. “In other seasons, she unapologetically offends everybody. But this season, she learns from her mistakes and she gets called out badly enough in a gnarly enough way in front of her peers that she can’t help but realize that she was wrong. But also she, in a really exciting turn, explains where she was coming from as opposed to being like, ‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry, everything I did was wrong.’ It’s like, ‘Well, here’s why. Here’s the pain I’ve experienced and what all this wiseass-ery has been covering. Here’s the s— I don’t want to talk about which is why I make jokes all the time.’ She explains herself and really is remorseful and apologetic.”
GLOW has always been extremely successful in taking what would normally be ancillary characters on other shows and giving them full, three-dimensional arcs. And Tohn is thrilled that it’s Melrose’s turn this season.
“It’s definitely the deepest and most gratifying work I’ve ever gotten to do as an actor,” she says. “As a comic, people are always like, ‘Tell jokes, clown!’ I’ve never been bummed about that, it’s definitely my brand, but I always wanted to go deeper. I’ve always been cast as characters who are funny and light and maybe a little dark – the comic relief. Our writers are so deep and funny and know what it’s like to be a multi-layered woman who maybe on the surface is overly confident and loud but underneath is covering up a lot of pain, so this season when I read the scripts I was weeping.”
Season 3 will see Melrose get not only a backstory but also an arc that will “make this character super full and super realized,” Tohn adds. “It felt really good that instead of her just an a—hole, just funny, and comic relief, not trying to make friends like in season 1. In season 2, she was still just a wiseass but a part of the team, using her ways for good. And then season 3, she becomes a much deeper version of herself. It was a joy to get to do that.”
But Tohn’s favorite storyline from the upcoming season is how GLOW will finally take a deeper look into the problematic stereotypes of all the characters’ wrestling alter egos. “One of the many reasons our show is amazing is because instead of just leaving it out because it’s really taboo and not okay to talk about these things, especially right now, they just talk directly about it,” Tohn says. “I’m talking about stereotypes and latent racism where you’re talking s— about a friend of yours from a certain culture but you’re like, ‘They can’t be mad, obviously I’m friends with them, I’m not racist.’ But the thing you’re saying is not okay. It’s not just okay because that person is your friend.”
Town explains that GLOW explores that nuance and dives into the sensitive, tricky issue fully this season. “GLOW does a really good job of tackling the minutiae of a lot of these issues instead of just putting a blanket over it all of the things we can’t say,” she adds. “They say them and then address them. You’ll see that addressed with the Melrose storyline this season. We’re dealing with race issues and talking about them. Other shows will be racist and not recognize it. Other shows will be so woke that they would never do something like that. GLOW is so doubly woke that it will do something like this and then address the issues of the thing they just did.”
She laughs, then adds, “And that was the plan all along. It wasn’t like, ‘S—, we got caught so we have to talk about it.’ We were always going to talk about this. I love this show so much and these people and our creators, writers, directors, my costars, it’s the equivalent of a unicorn. When I’m there, I am cognizant that I’m currently in the time of my life. Making this show, this is lightning in a bottle. This grouping of people and these creators and this space are so special.”
GLOW season 3 drops Friday on Netflix.
Inspired by the real-life 'Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling' series from the 1980s, this Netflix dramedy revolves around a crew of Hollywood misfits turned female wrestlers in L.A. who take their show to Las Vegas in season 3.