Netflix Canceled 'GLOW.' What's Next?

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.The lights have dimmed at GLOW. After three fan-beloved seasons on the streaming service, Netflix pulled the plug on a promised fourth installment this week, citing Covid-19 ’s impact on production. For fans, who had been promised a final season back in August 2019, it was a blow. (A GLOW blow? Sure.) It was also, in the grand scheme, a small loss. “Covid has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus,” series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch told Deadline in a statement. “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.”

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Of course, bluntly speaking, having 15 women together in one frame is part of the reason producing GLOW is nearly impossible right now. It’s a show about female wrestlers and there’s no real way actors can wrestle, or do wrestling-adjacent things, while an infectious, deadly disease is circulating around the globe. And the precautions required, if they were to attempt to film such a show, would likely be rather expensive. No doubt it should be safe to resume filming the show one day, but Netflix, it seems, thought it easier to cut ties rather than wait it out. Fair enough, but there’s something very disheartening about the idea of only watching TV shows that can be affordably shot at a safe distance.

But there was something else about Flahive and Mensch’s statement that hit hard. “We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women and their stories,” they wrote. “And now that’s gone.” For years, Netflix has been the home of weirdo stuff that a network probably wouldn’t take a chance on. As the coronavirus, and all of its very real impacts on Hollywood, take their toll, it’s hard not to worry that it could be the shows on the margins—the sci-fi/fantasy shows, the shows featuring women, LGBTQ+ characters, and people of color—that feel the most pain.
Before I get arrested by the Hypocrisy Police, a note of clarification: I’m on the record as being a proponent of canceling shows early and often. Some things are perfect as a single season; there’s no need to drag them out. I May Destroy You will likely live on as the best thing to hit TV in all of 2020, and I don’t require any more of it. Audiences would be much better served if creator and star Michaela Coel saw her time freed up to create the next best thing any of us has ever seen.