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Why Netflix's GLOW was cancelled: 4 crucial problems that halted season 4

The beloved series suffered a surprise cancellation due to COVID-19.

Published: Tuesday, 6th October 2020 at 3:26 pm

In recent weeks, networks and streaming services have taken to the unusual habit of abruptly cancelling shows that had previously been given confirmed renewals.


The troubling new trend comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has made television production a far more difficult process, rife with safety concerns, logistical nightmares and ballooning budgets.

Arguably, the most high profile victim of this so far has been GLOW, Netflix's popular comedy drama about a group of female wrestlers in the 1980s.

The series had been renewed for a fourth and final season last year, with filming getting underway back in February, but Netflix opted to pull the plug after seeing no easy path back to set.

But what makes GLOW a particularly tough nut to crack in a post-pandemic world breaks down the four leading factors that led to the show's untimely cancellation.

Los Angeles

The United States is the country hit hardest by coronavirus, with both the highest number of reported cases (7.4 million) and deaths (210,000) at the time of writing.

GLOW has been filmed entirely in a Los Angeles studio for its previous three seasons, with the cast returning to work there earlier this year to start work on their fourth and final outing.

However, since filming was halted, California has become one of the worst affected states in the USA, making it very difficult to reopen Los Angeles fully.

As a result, heading back there now is simply not a viable option as the risk of infection would be too high, particularly given the nature of the scenes required.


Alison Brie works on GLOW (Netflix) behind-the-scenes

As the title suggests, GLOW (or Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) contains a lot of wrestling scenes, which are nigh-on impossible to film safely during a pandemic such as this one.

Shooting these energetic fight scenes requires actors to get up close and personal, not just on the day but also throughout a lengthy rehearsal process.

As a result, the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak on set is notably higher than it would be on other dramas, many of which don't have a comparable physical element to consider.


Some disappointed fans have asked why Netflix couldn't have simply delayed filming on GLOW season four until such time as it could be carried out safely.

The streaming service has argued that this would not be an option, as it would put far too much distance between the third and fourth outings of the series, which could result in a serious case of audience drop-off.

According to Deadline, the very earliest that GLOW could have returned to screens for its final season would have been 2022, roughly three years after the previous batch of episodes.

Netflix did not feel comfortable gambling on the show's audience returning after such an extended break, particularly at such a great investment.


Alison Brie

Perhaps if GLOW had been a low-budget project, there might have been some justification to placing it on the back-burner for the time being - but the show is actually one of the more expensive productions in Netflix's lineup.

With big name stars like Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron attached, as well as ambitious costumes and fight sequences throughout, the show has been a sizeable investment for Netflix over the past few years.

Complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including a slower production cycle caused by essential new health and safety guidelines, would have added to the price tag even further - thus, reducing its viability.


GLOW is available to stream on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our TV Guide, or find out about upcoming new TV shows 2020.


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