EXCLUSIVE: GLOW, Netflix’s female wrestling dramedy, will not be returning to the ring for a fourth and final season. The streamer has reversed its renewal decision, made more than a year ago, in August 2019. The series starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron, has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus-related production shutdown.
“COVID has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. COVID also apparently took down our show,” series creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
Added Flahive and Mensch: “We’ll miss our cast of weirdo clowns and our heroic crew. It was the best job.” They ending their note to fans with a plea: “Register to vote. And please vote.”
GLOW was about three weeks into filming its fourth season when production was suspended in mid-March amid the escalating COVID outbreak. (Brie posted a photo from the set on February19.) At the time of the shutdown, GLOW had completed one episode and had started on a second.
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.
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, and 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 3. 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.
“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,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
Netflix in August made a similar decision not to proceed with previously commissioned second seasons of The Society and I Am Not Okay With This “due to circumstances related to COVID.”
GLOW, which has earned 15 Emmy nominations and three wins during its run, was inspired by the short-lived but beloved 1980s show. It tells the fictional story of Ruth Wilder (Brie), an out-of-work, struggling actress in 1980s Los Angeles who finds one last chance for stardom when she’s thrust into the glitter and spandex world of women’s pro wrestling.
Creators Flahive and Mensch served as showrunners and writers and executive produced alongside Kohan, Tara Herrmann and Mark Burley.
Season 3 followed the ladies of GLOW as they take the Vegas strip by storm. Now headliners at the Fan-Tan Hotel and Casino, the women quickly realize that Sin City is much more grind than glitter. Ever the team cheerleader, Ruth’s passion for the show begins to take a back seat to her increasingly complicated personal life.
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