Netflix’s Polish drama series “Glitter” takes us back in time, when Poland was in the seventies. The Polish society was in a state of flux, where there were new developments being made every day. Amidst the changing socio-political environment, there were three women who were trying to carve their own way and put an end to all the pain and misery that they were subjected to on a daily basis. “Glitter” boasts of a narrative that is not only socially aware but also delves inside the human psyche and gives us something to ponder upon. But the profound commentary the makers aimed to create wasn’t able to keep us invested. There were bits and pieces that stood out, but all in all, “Glitter” felt like a slog that was unable to justify its multiple subplots and couldn’t utilize its intriguing premise and promising characters to its full potential. So, let’s witness the story of Helena, Pola, and Marysia and understand their intentions and motivations.
Plot Summary: What Is the Series About?
The series, “Glitter,” takes us inside the lives of three independent women, Helena, Pola, and Marysia, who were trying to break the shackles and wage war against a misogynistic society and its deeply rooted taboos. All three of them provided escort services for the so-called elites of the city. Helena was the senior most among the three of them, and she also worked for the secret service and helped in their undercover operations. The girls often sought advice from Helena, as she knew the system well. All three of them wanted to start over and take their lives in different directions. Whereas Helena wanted to escape Poland, Pola wanted to be an entrepreneur. Marysia wanted to earn money and be in a position to dictate her own terms.
Pola’s license to manufacture hair shampoo had been suspended by an inspector who had arrived unannounced at her place. She had dealt with many such inspections in the past, but every time she had been able to somehow settle the matter. But this time, the inspector asked for sexual favors apart from taking a considerable amount of money as a bribe. Pola assaulted him and broke his nose. She then went to visit Wladek, who held a senior post in the department and asked him to look into the matter. Wladek said that he would talk to her once he had reviewed the discrepancies in the report. Wladek was infatuated with Pola, and he had every intention of using his position of power to coerce her to grant him favors. Pola conceded to his demands, but she arranged for a person to capture the intimate moments she shared with Wladek on camera. Pola tried to blackmail Wladek, but that, too, didn’t help her cause. Wladek told her that maybe he would get suspended if his superiors saw those photos, but that would mean that she would lose the only ally she had in the department. This inspector she had assaulted had contacts in the ministry, and he was trying his level best to get her license revoked. Wladek told Pola that his father-in-law was in an influential position and that he could help her get her license back. Wladek’s wife, Basia, was well aware that her husband was guilty of infidelity, but she had stopped speaking about it years ago. Basia had made peace with the situation, and she had realized that her marriage was a lost cause. She told Pola about a woman named Karmen, with whom Wladek had some sort of business relationship. Pola got to know that they were planning to manufacture perfume and sell it across Poland. The sector of perfumery was a lucrative line of business, and Pola wanted to be a part of it. She convinced Karmen to let her in on the plan, as she had realized that even if she got her license back, she wouldn’t want to manufacture shampoos anymore. It seemed unlikely at first, but Pola did grow fond of Wladek eventually. Wladek shared a beautiful relationship with Josek, Pola’s son. Pola noticed that Wladek was an affectionate man who could be a great father to her son.
Anna, Pola’s mother, didn’t like what she was doing, and she showed her disapproval when Karmen and Wladek came over to her place to discuss their plan of action. Even Wladek’s father-in-law was against him starting a perfume business with Pola and Karmen. He told Pola that he would give her license back if she agreed to part ways with his son-in-law. Basia decided to leave Wladek, and she had a plan in mind. She approached Pola and told her that in order to let her perfume business flourish, she would have to take some hard steps. Her father had obtained an injunction to stop the manufacturing of the perfume and to put Pola’s business on hold. Basia said that she could help her beat her father if Pola agreed to give her some shares of the company. Pola contacted Zbyszek from the secret service and urged him to become a partner in her business. Zbyszek was reluctant at first, but then he agreed to come on board. It was no less than a game of chess, and Pola had decided to sacrifice her own pawn to gain leverage and be in command of the position. Wladek became a victim of the situation, but he had no one but himself to blame for it.
‘Glitter’ Ending Explained: Do Helena And Tomas End Up Together? Does Marysia Agree To Work For The Secret Service?
Helena often used to help the secret service with their covert missions. She earned good money from working for the intelligence services and also through her clientele. She dreamed of a day when she would be able to live her life on her terms. Sometimes she felt like a puppet whose reins were pulled by the people sitting higher up the food line. Apart from that, being a sex worker came with its own challenges. Every day she had to face the taboos and stigma attached to her profession, listen to people talking behind her back, get used to people disrespecting her modesty, and still wake up every morning, put on her face and talk to clients in the most gleeful manner possible. The 1970s were a period of unrest in Polish society. Poland had taken a lot of loans from different countries to elevate its GDP growth potential, but instead, it had resulted in a recession. The secret service was keeping tabs on each and every person it had suspicions about. One such person was a journalist from Paris named Tomas Barre. Adam, who worked for the Secret Services, had told Helena to spend the night with the impoverished aristocrat and collect as much evidence against him as she could. Though Helena worked under Adam, their relationship went beyond their professional boundaries. Adam had a soft corner for her, and he used his position of authority to coerce her into doing things that she wouldn’t have indulged in otherwise. Now, it was not like Adam forced himself upon Helena, but at times she did feel obligated to indulge because he was in a position to determine her fate. Adam was also very possessive of her, and he didn’t like when she met other guys or showed interest in them.
When Helena met Tomas for the first time, she was smitten by his charm. Though Tomas paid her for her services, it showed in his eyes that he desired her and maybe wanted to develop an emotional connection as well. He was constantly asking her to spend a complete day with him. Helena was stalling him, but the secret service advised her otherwise. Till that time, they weren’t able to get any sort of evidence against the journalist, and they wanted to search his house for any incriminating evidence. So, Helena, her best friend Bogdan, and Tomas went to the beach to spend some quality time. Though Adam and his men didn’t find anything at Tomas’ home, Helena realized at the beach that she had fallen for him. The inevitable had happened, something that Helena always tried to avoid in her life. She knew that given the profession she was in and the kind of mess she was surrounded with, it was impossible for her to start a family with anyone or even dream about it.
Around the same time that Helena was getting involved with Tomas, she came into contact with a college student named Staszek. The naive boy saw Helena in a pub and tried talking to her. He accompanied her to her place, but she sent him back, advising him to not waste his time with a woman like her and to find a beautiful girl for himself. That night, when Helena went to the beach, she found Staszek standing there alone. She shared an intimate moment with him, and from that day onwards, she started seeing him once in a while whenever she hit rock bottom. It could be said that Helena was using Staszek, who was more than willing to compromise on everything as long as it allowed him to be in her company. She realized that what she was doing was not right, but she kept on misleading him until the water went overboard, and Adam decided to intervene and take charge of things. Adam went and threatened Staszek and made him hear the voice recording of Helena in which she had said that Staszek didn’t mean anything to her. Hearing the fact that Helena didn’t love him, Staszek was completely heartbroken. He wanted to confront her and ask why she was being so brutal with him, as he was not ready to accept the fact that she didn’t feel anything for him. Helena was sitting with Tomas when Staszek arrived and created a scene. Security had to come and escort him outside the hotel.
Towards the end of “Glitter,” we saw that Helena was told by Adam that if she helped the secret service find some evidence against Tomas, then they would arrange for her passport, giving her the opportunity to start her life in some other country. Helena was sent to meet Tomas with a microphone attached to her body. She was playing the part when something inside her made her reevaluate her actions. At that moment, she took a call that she wouldn’t lie to Tomas, even if that meant not getting a passport. She showed him the hidden microphone, and Tomas left the scene. She was ready to face the consequences of her actions, but what happened next took her by surprise. Adam gave her the passport and urged her to leave the country and start a new life. Adam had always loved Helena, and he risked his own job to free her from the clutches of the secret service. In the last episode of “Glitter,” we saw that Marysia agreed to work for the secret service. Marysia had high hopes from her relationship with Jurek. She didn’t want her joy ride to end but reality struck and made her realize that Jurek was not somebody with whom she could share her life for a long time. He lived a life of pretentiousness, and it didn’t take long for him to move on after his breakup. Marysia had realized that she would have to fend for herself, and it was a mistake on her part to depend on somebody instead of trusting one’s own capabilities.
Marysia had been contacted before by Adam, but she turned down the offer because her demands weren’t met. She wanted to be in a position to choose her own clients, just like Helena. She was told that she didn’t have the status that would allow her to enjoy such perks. But after Helena decided to end her association with the secret service, Marysia took her position and started a new chapter of her life. Marysia’s first client was a man named Kowysbaski, who worked at Gdynia Harbour and was involved in illegal gold trading. He was the guy who had earlier approached Marysia, but at that time, she had brutally turned down his offer since he wasn’t ready to pay her the amount she desired. Dealing with a nonconformist like Maryisa was not an easy task, and it is quite possible that she would become a headache for the secret service eventually. The nature of work in any intelligence agency is such that you cannot question the chain of command, and often you have to do your task even if you do not understand the real purpose behind it. Marysia was a rebel, and probably in “Glitter” season 2, we would get to witness how she goes about her business and if the secret service is able to control and deal with her.
“Glitter” is a 2022 Polish Drama series streaming on Netflix.