All the shows unrenewed due to the COVID-19 pandemic: GLOW, Stumptown, and more
Television has always been an uncertain landscape, and each season leaves behind a stack of failed pilots and canceled series. But now, with COVID-19 immobilizing much of Hollywood, even shows that have been renewed aren't safe.
Recently, we've had to say goodbye to critically acclaimed series like GLOW and Drunk History, which were canceled due to the pandemic. Both series were previously renewed and already filming new episodes when coronavirus hit and created budgetary and scheduling issues for numerous networks and streamers. The industry as a whole is still reeling, with major films like The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominion pushing back release dates, and music festivals and concerts such as Coachella postponing for months or more.
See a full list of shows that were "unrenewed" due to COVID-19 below.
After six seasons, the Derek Waters-hosted Drunk History was canceled in August, despite Comedy Central previously renewing the series. The show, which featured buzzed celebrity guests retelling historical events, was already filming new episodes when the pandemic struck and shut down production.
Waters, who also created Drunk History, expressed his disappointment with the cancellation and shared Instagram photos of actors who've guest-starred on the show, including Michael Cera, Jake Johnson, Jack Black.
"Beyond disappointed with Comedy Central cancelling Drunk History. Sad to see it end but my god am I thankful for all it did," he wrote. "Posting pics from back in the day when it was just a YouTube video. Without these people the show wouldn't have ever happened. Thank you all so so much!"
In one swoop, Netflix axed the sophomore seasons of two well-received young-adult series in August: The Society and I Am Not Okay With This. The former premiered in May 2019 and was renewed two months later, and scripts were already written when the show was canceled.
EW learned that while Netflix executives were pleased with the performance of both shows, the uncertainty around production dates, balancing the needs and availabilities of a large cast (in the case of The Society), and unexpected budget increases due to the pandemic contributed to the decisions.
Created by Chris Keyser, The Society was a modern take on Lord of the Flies and starred Kathryn Newton, Kristine Froseth, Gideon Adlon, and more as a group of teens who must fend for themselves after they find themselves stranded in a replica of their town with no trace of their families.
Newton said she was "heartbroken" by the news during an Instagram Live with Adlon, who revealed that production was slated to begin in September. "We thought we were going back pretty soon, actually… I'm sorry we left it on such a cliffhanger; we didn't want that," Adlon added.
I Am Not Okay With This
Based on Charles Forsman's comic book, I Am Not Okay With This became a cult favorite and starred Sophia Lillis as a 17-year-old navigating high school, family, sexuality, and her budding telekinetic powers. The series premiered in February and was previously greenlit for a second season (though not announced).
"We've made the difficult decision not to move forward with second seasons of The Society and I Am Not Okay With This," Netflix said in a statement. "We're disappointed to have to make these decisions due to circumstances created by COVID, and we are grateful to these creators, including: Jonathan Entwistle, Christy Hall, Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Dan Cohen and Josh Barry at 21 Laps Entertainment for I Am Not Okay With This; Chris Keyser, Marc Webb and Pavlina Hatoupis for The Society; and all the writers, casts, and crews who worked tirelessly to make these shows for our members around the world."
"After yesterday's news about #iamnotokaywiththis I want to say a huge THANK YOU from me and @christyjanaehall and the entire cast and crew of I Am Not Okay With This to all of the fans," Entwistle wrote on Instagram. "Covid definitely sucks… It has been an honour to follow #TEOTFW with #IANOWT at @netflix." He adapted the series after bringing another Forsman comic, The End of the F***ing World, to Netflix.
In late August, TruTV canceled Andrea Savage's I'm Sorry, which starred the series creator as a comedy writer and mom living in Los Angeles. The show was renewed last June, and production on the upcoming third season was shut down due to the pandemic.
"Due to circumstances created by COVID, we unfortunately cannot move forward with production on the third season of I'm Sorry,'" a TruTV spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Variety. "We admire Andrea Savage's irreverent voice and fresh take on parenthood and are so proud of the show she and her cast and crew created. She was a great partner for many years and we truly wish everyone well."
Fans loved the action-packed freshman series and its complicated, gritty heroine, Dex Parios, played by Cobie Smulders. A supporting cast of TV veterans including Jake Johnson (New Girl), Michael Ealy (Almost Human), and Camryn Manheim (The Practice) didn't hurt either. Still, that didn't stop ABC in September from reversing course on the show's season 2 renewal, with the network citing timing and scheduling issues. But cross your fingers — reports say ABC Signature is working on shopping Stumptown elsewhere.
"She's unlike any character I've ever read. It was really exciting to me," Smulders told EW ahead of the series premiere. "It's this messy person who drinks and gambles too much and is not going to show up all the time, but at the same time, she's inherently good and wants to help others and is quite righteous. It's exciting to play a fully realized woman, and not just a couple shades of a character."
August's onslaught of cancellation news continued into fall, as Netflix took back the renewal for GLOW in early October. The award-winning comedy series about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling starred Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie. It was renewed for a fourth and final season last September, but EW learned that the circumstances of the COVID-19 shutdown led the streamer to retroactively cancel it.
"COVID has killed actual humans. It's a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show," creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch said in a statement. "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 s----- 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. We'll miss our cast of weirdo clowns and our heroic crew. It was the best job."
On Becoming a God in Central Florida
On Oct. 7, it was announced that Showtime canceled the Kirsten Dunst-led series On Becoming a God in Central Florida, after previously renewing it for a second season. The network cited the pandemic as the reason, and it's likely that the involvement of an outside studio also contributed to the cancellation. Sony TV produced the dark comedy, meaning Showtime would've incurred extra costs and licensing fees on top of expensive measures to keep production safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The series starred Dunst as a water park employee who climbs the ladder of a business cult's pyramid scheme. Prior to its debut on Showtime, the George Clooney-produced project (which Dunst also produced alongside Clooney's Oscar-winning Argo collaborator Grant Heslov) navigated a difficult road to existence, after first being developed at AMC with The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos involved, and later moving to YouTube before landing its Showtime premiere in 2019.
Following the show's cancellation, some fans noted that six of the seven shows that have been "unrenewed" so far were led by women.
"Why is it mostly woman-led shows facing these reverse covid cancellations," comedian Ashley Ray tweeted. "incredible shows about complex, diverse female characters that all had longevity and they're just GONE NOW?"