Earlier this week, Netflix announced that it was cancelling its dramedy series GLOW after three seasons. The news shocked fans, as Netflix had previously confirmed a fourth and final season and production was already well underway.
In September 2019, Netflix announced the renewal of GLOW for a fourth and final season. Three weeks into filming the season, production stopped in mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the case for nearly all film and TV productions in Los Angeles. Filming for some projects has since re-started. However, the nature of the show meant that it had some of the biggest obstacles to ‘wrestle’ with.
First airing in 2017, GLOW is a comedy-drama series starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron. It is based on the actual ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’ (GLOW) pro-wrestling circuit. Set in 1980s Los Angeles, it follows Ruth Wilder (Brie), a struggling actress who joins the fledgeling women’s wrestling circuit. During its time in the ring, GLOW earned 15 Emmy nominations and 3 wins.
From the start, the show had a high budget. Filming involved extensive physical contact given the amount of wrestling featured on the show. This led to uncertainty around how to protect the 20-person cast from a potential outbreak. The earliest air date for the season would have been 2022 – three years after the previous season. Given the gap between seasons and the production costs, Netflix did not have the confidence to invest further and cancelled GLOW.
GLOW is not the only Netflix series knocked out by COVID-19. Back in August, Netflix cancelled two previously-renewed original series, The Society and I Am Not Okay With This. Russian Doll, Stranger Things and The Witcher all halted production on new seasons. Outside of Netflix, the highly-anticipated Friends reunion has been delayed indefinitely.
“COVID has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show,” GLOW creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch said in a statement to Deadline. They went on to reiterate the human cost of the pandemic and other global developments. “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.” Flahive and Mensch ended their statement with a call to fans: “Register to vote. And please vote.”
As this case shows, the filming and production industry’s fight against the impact of COVID-19 is far from over. It’s a situation frustrating to viewers, creators, and casts/crews alike. Until the spread of COVID-19 is under control, more delays and halted productions remain on the horizon.
Words by Gemma Laws
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