Netflix cancels GLOW due to COVID-19 shutdown despite fourth and final season renewal
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling won't return to the mat as Netflix has canceled GLOW.
Even though the award-winning series was previously renewed for a fourth and final season, EW has learned that the circumstances of the COVID-19 shutdown led the streaming service to retroactively cancel it. Deadline first reported the news.
"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---ty 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."
The creators ended their statement with a call to action: "Register to vote. And please vote."
As for the decision to cancel the Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie-led series despite its previous renewal, a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement: "We’ve made the difficult decision not to do a fourth season of GLOW due to COVID, which makes shooting this physically intimate show with its large ensemble cast especially challenging. We are so grateful to creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, Jenji Kohan and all the writers, cast and crew for sharing this story about the incredible women of GLOW with us and the world."
GLOW began production on the fourth and final season in Los Angeles back in February, and the cast and crew were able to finish filming one episode and had started on a second. But when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a complete shutdown in March, production halted. Since the show is shot entirely in Los Angeles and the large ensemble cast frequently films wrestling scenes that require close interactions and heavy breathing and exertion, the series faced major obstacles in getting production back up and running. Plus, GLOW's fourth and final season likely wouldn't debut until 2022, at least two and a half years after the previous season hit Netflix.
Due to the significant delay, the high level of risk to safely produce TV during COVID-19 (plus the resulting increased costs), and the potential exposure that comes with wrestling scenes, Netflix decided the series was too costly to produce. All of the series regulars have been paid in full for the fourth and final season, and GLOW's season 3 ending cliffhanger won't see a resolution, leaving fans to wonder what would happen to all the women after Debbie bought a television network and wanted to move the show back to Los Angeles.
"So much of the show is the women striving to get somewhere, especially Debbie, who has been struggling the most with her thirst for power and the constraints of being a woman in 1980s Hollywood," Mensch previously told EW about that season 3 ending. "This is the first time that we’ve let a character achieve something this close to what they want, and what that means and where that leads, we won’t spoil. But there’s something very game-changing about letting a character get something this big, and at what expense. We end in a way that suggests she’s going there without Ruth, so what that means, we’ll have to see."
This is not the first Netflix series to get retroactively canceled "due to circumstances related to COVID." YA series The Society and I Am Not Okay With This were both supposed to get sophomore seasons but were canceled back in August. 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 coronavirus pandemic contributed to the decisions.
Inspired by the real-life 'Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling' series from the 1980s, this Netflix dramedy revolves around a crew of Hollywood misfits turned female wrestlers in L.A. who take their show to Las Vegas in season 3.