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Finally, a show that fills the gap Ugly Betty left behind. Jordon Nardino’s Glamorous brings the glitz and glamor back to the small screen, picking up the mantle from fast-paced, fashion-forward comedies like Younger and The Bold Type. Thankfully, Glamorous is just as vibrant as each of these shows, but more queer than anything we’ve seen on Netflix in a while. It’s a grown-up Heartstopper with Emily in Paris sensibilities, something of a Queer as Folk for Generation Z. Everything from the witty dialogue riddled with pop culture references to the soundtrack (hello, Kylie Minogue) is gay as hell.
But don’t let the show’s glittery packaging distract from important conversations, particularly around the meaning of Pride in a corporate context, gender expression and exploration, and the trials and tribulations of queer dating. The series also welcomes Kim Cattrall in her most Samantha Jones-adjacent role since Sex and the City as Madolyn Addison, a retired supermodel and founder of the titular makeup company. Seeing her back on screen in such a significant role is nothing but a delight, and she is also credited as a series producer.
In Carrie Bradshaw fashion, the finale opens like every other episode this season with Marco Mejia (Miss Benny in their first starring role) narrating via beauty vlogging. This time around, there are a few less makeup metaphors as he unboxes press samples for Glamorous by Madolyn’s official YouTube channel to nearly a million subscribers — a step up from the Instagram Live broadcasts from his childhood bedroom set-up from previous episodes.
Unfortunately, Marco throws some shade to Waverly during the broadcast, a “major influencer,” sparking a classic beauty vlogger war. Marco has come a long way from losing makeup samples in an Uber, but he still manages to stumble around in his overconfidence. His misstep leads to fun hijinks like disarming threatening glitter bombs received in the office and tracking down Waverly at their New York hotel to make a formal apology after the failure of comical, tearful YouTube video apology.
Although he wasn’t able to get past the “riptide,” or what Waverly’s fans call themselves, the quest allows Marco to recruit Ben (Michael Hsu Rosen) for assistance and rekindle their friendship. Sweet Trekkie Ben has been through the ringer with Marco as the back burner option in a painful love triangle. Marco leads him on any time things get rocky with his self-proclaimed “finance bro” boyfriend Parker (Graham Parkhurst), who he satisfyingly dumps in the penultimate episode.
The season dedicates quite a bit of screen time showcasing Parker as a walking red flag who can’t reconcile his attraction and desire for Marco with his inability to date a person who prefers a face beat and a bright pink stiletto to conformed masculine aesthetics. Parker’s treatment of Marco gets increasingly abusive, and it was frustrating to watch Marco having to learn the hard lessons by returning to him again and again just because Parker has zero percent body fat and works out at Equinox daily. As his mother Julia (Diana Maria Riva) reminds him, no one has made him rethink the way he presents himself since he wore painted nails to school for the first time — it was high time Parker got kicked to the curb.
The finale doesn’t give us a romcom ending for Marco and Ben, but they do get to dance their feelings away one last time to “Cry For You” by September at the The Hinkle Room, the show’s go-to queer bar in Bushwick, while Parker and his new, identical-looking boyfriend watch from the sidelines. Their return to a cordial friendship feels satisfying and earned, and the door seems open to further romantic exploration if the show returns for a second season.
Rather than a romantic conclusion, the endgame of the season for Marco is his relationship to himself. He ends the season self-assured as he moves out of his childhood home and in with Dizmal (Damian Terriquez), The Hinkle Room’s witty DJ and emcee who happened to be looking for a roommate. Marco even gets a hand-delivered peace offering from Waverly, a letter telling him to be good to himself. In the end, Marco’s dating journey serves as a deeper exploration of identity, rather than ending in partnership.
Back at Glamorous HQ, the deal with acquisition company Vendemiaire has officially fallen through and Venetia (Jade Payton) continues to pull double duty as both Madolyn’s assistant and savior of the company. Her idea to discontinue the current makeup formulas in favor of an organic line is successful and provides the company with a needed infusion of cash. Compared to Marco’s messy back-and-forth with Parker, Venetia and Britt’s (Ayesha Harris) workplace romance is the healthiest, most tender relationship of the season. They provide mutual support for each other and move through conflict in a mature way, a well-needed healthy relationship baseline for this show with chaotic trysts.
When the new organic line faces supply chain issues, Venetia once again swoops in to save the day. “I only looked out for me because no one else was,” Venetia says, and she’s right. She has worked as Madolyn’s assistant for three consecutive years without a promotion, and even though she is the reason Glamorous’ Pride campaign was successful, took the lead in reformulating the entire makeup line into organic products, and lives and breathes her job, she is still overlooked by Madolyn. At this point, the company should probably be called Glamorous by Venetia. Luckily, her hard work is finally recognized in the finale with a well-deserved promotion—one she fought hard to get.
We can’t forget about Madolyn’s son Chad (Zane Phillips), who has decided it’s time to leave his nepo baby job for greener pastures. Giving his notice to Madolyn causes a wrinkle in the penultimate episode, leaving his mother to gaze sadly at old photographs of her son instead of attending a meet-and-greet at the company’s inventory blow-out sale. Ultimately, she comes to terms with his departure, offering her blessing at his goodbye party.
We don’t get to know much about Chad beyond his obsession with fitness and his desire to feel validated by his mother, but Phillips brings a fun energy to the show reminiscent of Ugly Betty’s Daniel Meade as the company’s resident meathead. The finale ends with Chad’s father, Madolyn’s ex-husband whom she avoids at all costs, appearing at the Glamorous offices. Although his identity isn’t revealed, we are left with Chad and Madolyn’s shocked expressions, which don’t bode well for things to come at Glamorous.
Seeing Kim Cattrall play another high-powered, successful, fashion-forward woman in New York is ravishing. She cements herself as a gay icon on Glamorous who chooses television projects that are mostly queer-centric (she was in the Queer as Folk reboot as well). Madolyn pours everything into her company, and through her, the show introduces thoughtful questions about what it means for old luxury brands to move toward progressive ideals in meaningful ways, or if that’s even possible within a capitalist context. The finale sees Madolyn’s risks, initially inspired by Marco’s visions in the pilot of a future-thinking brand, pay off. Glamorous returns to equilibrium.
Unfortunately Madolyn’s venture into dating isn’t as successful and she refuses to accept an apology from James (Mark Devlin) for his betrayal back in episode 7. “To me,” she says in her most Samantha moment of the season, raising a glass to herself after slamming the door in his face. In her last scene of the season, Madolyn has fully reconciled with her driver Teddy (Ricardo Chavira) who she initially mistook as a corporate spy. As they share a late night drink, Teddy admits he’s “in like” with Madolyn, but both withhold from taking things further, for now.
As we know, and after much fanfare, Catrall will be back for the upcoming finale of And Just Like That… While we wait for what may be an unsatisfying cameo, there is more than enough Cattrall to go around on Glamorous.
Michel Ghanem is a freelance writer based in Vancouver. He has written about TV for The Cut, W Magazine, TheWrap, Primetimer, his Substack newsletter, and elsewhere. Follow him on Instagram: @tvscholar.