Netflix, aka Skekflix, has blamed COVID-19 for another TV cancellation. After axing The Society, I Am Not Okay with This, and Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance after just one season each (and after an Emmy win for Dark Crystal), Netflix has reversed its decision to renew GLOW for a fourth and final season (a decision made last year).
According to Deadline, GLOW had completed one episode of Season 4 before filming was shutdown due to the pandemic. “Over the past seven months Netflix, which is a studio on the series, had been working on ways to get the show back into production. Shot entirely in Los Angeles, which has proven to be one of the more challenging locations to get large scale productions back up and running, GLOW faced its own unique challenges with the physical requirements of wrestling — a focal point of the show — that make it high-risk to produce safely during COVID. That includes physical contact, heavy breathing and exertion, which are required for wrestling but should be avoided during a pandemic because of danger spreading the virus.”
(Actual wrestling, meanwhile, has not slowed down).
Deadline went on to say, “Already an expensive, high-end series. GLOW faced high additional, COVID-related costs for its large cast of 20. That, combined with the uncertainty around COVID-19, the inherent physicality of the series whose risk had to be mitigated, ultimately pushed the budget of the series too high for Netflix to proceed, sources said. Additionally, the earliest GLOW would have returned to air would be 2022, at least two and half years after season three. With the significant delay and the increased costs of production, Netflix brass didn’t have confidence there would be a big enough audience who would tune in at that point to justify the investment. All of the series regulars have been paid for Season 4 in full.”
That last sentence is probably key. Though the show could technically go on hiatus or be postponed much further out, to keep the cast in their contracts and waiting around for another year would be money that Netflix doesn’t want to spend (and from a cold business perspective, it doesn’t make sense to).
The streaming giant, which pumps out an incredible amount of original programming each year, has been joked about for some time about how it cancels everything after two seasons. Now most shows aren’t even getting that (Netflix also canceled another Jenji Kohan production alongside the GLOW news, Teenage Bounty Hunters, after its first season). As mentioned above, like with Dark Crystal, GLOW was an expensive but critically lauded show (garnering three Emmy wins)—something easy for Netflix to cut for budget reasons. The other similarity is that (as I noted in my initial Season 3 review) it ended in a place that doesn’t serve well as a series finale.
Though we can hope for some kind of one-off reunion special in the future perhaps, it’s cold comfort for this wonderful, charming, unique series (and others like it) buried by Netflix’s own algorithm that never really gave it a chance.
GLOW creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch said in a statement to Deadline:
“COVID has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show. Netflix has decided not to finish filming the final season of GLOW. We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women and tell their stories. And wrestle. And now that’s gone. There’s a lot of sh*tty things happening in the world that are much bigger than this right now. But it still sucks that we don’t get to see these 15 women in a frame together again.”
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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