Netflix’s “GLOW” enters its third season in the most likely place. Las Vegas is the setting as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling land a months-long engagement at a less-than-stellar casino.
Geena Davis (“Thelma and Louise”) joins the cast as Sandy Devereaux St. Clair, the casino’s no-nonsense entertainment director. Like most of the cast, she appears to be having a blast playing her hard-as-nails “show-must-go-on” character.
The season opener may be the first nostalgia-based comedy to ever mine the 1986 Challenger explosion for uncomfortable laughs. Not to give too much away, but the national tragedy unfolds live on television as Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) appear in character as “Zoya the Destroya” and “Liberty Belle,” trading wrestling trash talk.
This leaves Ruth with the glum sensation that she was making pro-Soviet wisecracks while American heroes plunged to their deaths. It’s only one of her many regrets.
Marc Maron has made the most of his role as Sam Sylvia, the jaded, washed-up producer of the “Ladies,” and a hard-drinking cynic who carries a torch for Ruth.
Vegas is the perfect home for this troupe, and it allows for more character development. And “GLOW” keeps the focus on the performers’ interaction. There isn’t one “performance” during the season’s first two episodes. One is dedicated to run-throughs and lighting setups, and the other follows the gang during a day off.
It’s interesting that two of the best series airing or streaming right now are “GLOW” and FX’s “Pose.” Both are set in the not-so-distant past (the late ‘80s and early ‘90s), and both are concerned with the personal struggles of over-the-top performers in a world drenched in transvestitism and role-play.
It’s remarkable how “normal” and mainstream both worlds have become. Both wrestling and drag place a premium on exaggeration and a need for an audience that laps up the extreme.
Against this background, both series emphasize characters trying to build normalcy and the idea of a “family” out of what others would dismiss as a freak show.
• John Quinones returns to host the 14th season of “What Would You Do?” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG), a hidden-camera series confronting people (and viewers) with uncomfortable moments and ethical dilemmas. Scheduled incidents include a deaf man being denied service at a restaurant and an altercation over immigration in El Paso, Texas. This segment was produced before last weekend’s mass shooting in that city.
• The docuseries “Free Meek” begins streaming on Amazon Prime. It follows the legal woes of rapper Meek Mill to show the reality of black men facing decades of probation that keep them in legal jeopardy throughout their adult lives.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Familiar faces reunite on “BH90210” (8 p.m., Fox, R, TV-14).
• “WE Day” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) showcases young activists.
• “Great Performances” (9 p.m., PBS, TV-G) presents an open-air concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
• The 2019 documentary “David Bowie: Finding Fame” (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-14) follows the singer/songwriter from his earliest performances through the “death” of Ziggy Stardust in 1973.
• Neve Campbell (“Party of Five”) and Courteney Cox (“Friends”) star in the 1996 horror sendup “Scream” (9:30 p.m., Viceland, TV-14).
• A victim’s daughter may prove key to a case on “Blue Bloods” (10 p.m., CBS, R, TV-14).
• Bestic’s liberation looms large on the season finale of “Jett” (10 p.m., Cinemax, TV-MA).
• Future TV stars Lucille Ball and Red Skelton star in the 1943 comedy “Du Barry Was a Lady” (2:15 a.m., TCM, TV-G), part of an all-day salute to Red Skelton.
An autopsy offers insight into an old case on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, R, TV-14) ... Obstacles galore on “American Ninja Warrior” (8 p.m., NBC, R, TV-PG) ... Dean Cain hosts “Masters of Illusion” (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) ... Variety abounds on “The Big Stage” (8:30 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
A breezy vet opts for a tropical venue on “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m., CBS, R, TV-14) ... King crabs reign supreme on “MasterChef” (9 p.m., Fox, R, TV-14) ... Powers of suggestion on “Hypnotize Me” (9 p.m., CW, R, TV-PG) ... “Dateline” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC, R).
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (11:35 p.m., CBS), “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (11:35 p.m., ABC) are repeats.
John Oliver, CC Sabathia, Mini Mansions and Jeff Quay visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC, R) ... Lily Collins, Charles Melton and NCT 127 appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (12:35 a.m., CBS, R).