GLOW’s cancellation highlights a frustrating trend regarding which shows Netflix axes

Photo: Betty Gilpin, Alison Brie.. GLOW: Season 3.. Credit: Ali Goldstein/Netflix
Photo: Betty Gilpin, Alison Brie.. GLOW: Season 3.. Credit: Ali Goldstein/Netflix /

Netflix’s cancellation of GLOW is not surprising. In fact, it’s the latest in a long line of decisions by the company to axe diverse, original programing.

Last Monday, Netflix announced its beloved semi-historical series about professional female wrestlers, GLOW, was canceled — a confusing decision considering the series had already been renewed for a fourth and final season that had begun production.

There are multiple frustrating aspects to this decision, but let’s begin with Netflix’s official statement per The Hollywood Reporter:

"“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.”"

While citing production safety issues with COVID seems valid, it also rings hollow. Considering there is not yet a vaccine, Hollywood has rushed production on multiple fronts and faced issues as a result.

Though GLOW does require more close physical contact due to the wrestling in the show, it certainly isn’t the only production with stunts that has gone on in the time of COVID.

This isn’t to say that any of these shows should be in production right now or that it’s safe to be working right now. Rather, the reasoning feels a bit hypocritical. After all, if the actual WWE can go on, why not GLOW? Alternatively, the series probably could have just waited a bit longer, like many others have been forced to.

Furthermore, GLOW is simply the latest in a long history of Netflix cancellations of, for lack of a better term, diverse original series. Shows like GLOW are few and far between — full of women, women of color and queer women, all of whom are powerful and strong, and helmed by women behind the scenes as well.

In tandem with GLOW, Netflix also announced the cancellation of Teenage Bounty Hunters, another show with young women at the center and a queer storyline.

If you aren’t sensing a theme yet, Netflix has a tendency to cancel its more inclusive series, with perhaps its most famous example being One Day at a Time, but also including smaller series with big stars like RuPaul Charles’s AJ and the Queen and Idris Elba’s Turn Up, Charlie.

These decisions from Netflix signal over and over to the queer community, women, people of color, and other marginalized audiences that Netflix is not truly invested in telling their stories.

Netflix’s reasoning for cancellations is always shallow and rarely ever sound. Despite the company’s best attempts, Netflix can never cite ratings as a reason when they don’t release numbers to the public.

It’s a scheme that may have worked in the first phase of Netflix’s lifespan, but with more streaming services growing by the minute, audiences can choose to go to other platforms.

With massively popular and critically acclaimed series like Lovecraft Country, Watchmen, and I May Destroy You available to stream on HBO Max or Dickinson, Little America, and The Morning Show streaming on Apple TV+, audiences can clearly see who invests in diverse stories, creators, and audiences.

Furthermore, for audiences who may be less critical but enjoy television for television’s sake, it is also frustrating to get sucked into a show and never receive closure or resolution. Netflix has purposely crafted its “cliffhanger binge” format of storytelling in order to keep people hooked, but when they cancel most of their shows, why watch at all?

If there’s one upside to this news, it’s that rarely is a show truly canceled or an idea done. More than ever now, series are revived, movies are rebooted, and stories live on. Here’s hoping there will be more GLOW yet to come.

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What do you think about Netflix’s recent cancellations? Tell us in the comments below!