We have bad news for fans of professional wrestling, and also for lovers of surprisingly emotionally-effective comedies about women in sports. After three popular and successful seasons, Netflix has decided to bring the ax down on its exclusive series “GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” This is despite the fact that production on the fourth season had already started before the studio was forced to shut down because of the ongoing pandemic situation, and the entirety of the first episode is already understood to have been filmed.
The news appears to have come out of the blue and has been met with disappointment by fans, cast members, and the show’s writers and producers. There has also been criticism of Netflix. One long-standing belief about the way that Netflix decides whether to drop or continue shows is that they weigh heavily on newer shows because they think longer-running titles don’t bring in audiences as easily. Their statistics tell them that the more episodes there are of a show to ‘catch up’ on, the less likely a new viewer is to be drawn to it. If this is true, it implies that Netflix cares more about attracting new customers than serving those who already subscribe to the service – a position that has drawn strong criticism from some quarters.
For those who aren’t acquainted with the show, “GLOW” tells the story of a tightly-knit but somewhat unconventional gang of female wrestlers during the 1980s as they seek fame and stardom in the United States of America. Most of them started life as actors and ended up in pro wrestling by accident. They’re a lovable bunch, and their story is loosely rooted in reality. There was a real-life wrestling promotion called “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” during the 1980s that mostly filmed and broadcast in Las Vegas, and the struggles faced by the wrestlers in it were similar to those faced by the characters in the television show. However, the performers’ names are completely different, and the stories they tell are exaggerated to make good television. The show has made an unlikely star out of British actor Kate Nash – a former pop and indie singer in her first-ever acting role.
The initial success of “GLOW” took everybody by surprise. It’s long been thought that the only company capable of making money out of wrestling is Vince McMahon’s WWE, but that’s been proven to be incorrect. All Elite Wrestling, a rival promotion, started in Florida last year and is now on network television in the US. Mexican wrestling is also very popular, as is evidenced by the sheer number of wrestling-themed online slots in existence like “Lucha Legends.” If the notion of wrestling can attract money at online slots websites, it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that it can make money elsewhere. Ironically, an online slots website might be the best way to describe Netflix’s attitude towards its shows. Such websites only keep their online slots online for as long as they’re making money. If they’re not popular enough, they get pulled down and replaced by something else. “GLOW” appears to have fallen foul of this ideology.
Among all the upset caused online by the show’s sudden cancellation, a campaign has started on social media aimed at persuading Netflix to change its mind about the cancellation. As various people pointed out, money has already been spent on the fourth season, and a promise was made to fans. The series’s central plotlines have been left unresolved because the fourth season had already been promised to the producers by the time the third came to an end, and the scripts have already been written. In addition to that, most media outlets appear to view the cancellation of the show as a mistake. It’s been suggested that if Netflix is unwilling to allow the story to be finished on its platform, it should release the rights to enable either a fourth season or a film to be made elsewhere.
One person who’s been left particularly disappointed by the news is Canadian professional wrestler Taya Valkyrie, who performs for Impact Wrestling and is married to WWE star John Morrison. After spending her whole entertainment career thus far as a wrestler, Valkyrie had landed a role in the show and had already recorded her first scenes for the opening episode. It was to be her first exposure as an actor. It now seems inevitable that her scenes will never be seen, potentially affecting her chances of a career in television after her professional wrestling career ends.
Elsewhere, there’s frustration that this show has been canceled while Netflix invests significant sums of money into shows that don’t necessarily have a ready-made audience. It’s been reported elsewhere that one such project is a “RoboCop” prequel set before the events of the first film, which would mean that the character of RoboCop wouldn’t appear in it. Few people would disagree with the suggestion that the central character “RoboCop” is RoboCop himself. It’s hard to imagine a show set in the same world but without that character connecting with an audience. Based on press coverage and articles online alone, “GLOW” had a steady and devoted audience. Some of them have stated that they’ll be canceling their subscriptions in protest. There probably won’t be enough people doing so to make Netflix care, but someone within the company’s head offices ought to be taking note.
There might be another side to this. Filming a series like “GLOW” requires a lot of close physical contact because of all the wrestling scenes, and close physical contact isn’t easy to film in 2020 because of the global pandemic. That excuse doesn’t appear to hold water, though. The fact remains that both WWE and AEW are still airing live wrestling shows every week, and so if they can do ‘real’ wrestling live on television, “GLOW” ought to be able to do it within the comparative safety of a television studio. Whichever way you look at it, the move to cancel “GLOW” doesn’t appear to make much sense.
Sadly, we’re going to presume that “GLOW” won’t be coming back and that the show is gone for good. We’ll miss Debbie and the rest of the gang, and we hope that all of the cast and crew quickly find employment elsewhere. So long, “GLOW,” and thanks for the memories!