A Lousy Ending: GLOW (2017-19)

The entertainment industry is risky for all involved.  Prior to 2020, the greatest risks were being fired, cancelled, unable to secure work.  Or worse: keeping some sexually deviant waste of existence from getting their hands on someone's body.  Come 2020, a pandemic and irrational unrest created new risk factors for production.  Tragically, GLOW became one of these casualties of COVID-19.  Per Deadline, pandemic risks increased the already-pricy production as much of the series features contact action and stunts.  GLOW was in process of taking episode 2 of its 4th and final season when production was shut down.  

Mitigating health risks is understood, but this left Season 3's bittersweet finale as the underwhelming end.  GLOW was loosely based on the real life Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) franchise which ran from approximately 1986-92.  Netflix's version focused on building the production and getting it on the air its 1st season, earning rave reviews from critics.  The secondary focus showcased the complicated and soured friendship of sweet yet outcasted Ruth (Allison Brie) trying to mend her friendship after stealing the husband of her overshadowing friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin).  The characters' fictionalized characters were stereotypical and offensive yet deepend and enriched the actors' struggles for viewers to enjoy.  Season 2 focused on the televised struggles of the ensemble trying to market their brand, and Season 3 followed the ladies as they took their franchise to Las Vegas.  

Netflix ordered a 4th and final season in 2019, relaying a mild relief at least the series was able to end on its own terms.  The season's scripts were finalized, production began, and COVID struck.  Netflix may be stuck in a difficult place as the pandemic was an unforeseen obstacle, but this cancellation fits a notorious Netflix has had in recent years with axing series after 3 seasons.  Notorious examples of this were Santa Clarita Diet and One Day at a Time, both of which launched in GLOW's 2017 class and were dispensed in 2019 by Netflix.  Furthering the sting is Netflix' cruel, iron-clad contractual clauses which forbid series from shopping their shows to other platforms for a revival within 3 years.

GLOW's curse appears to be a lack of faith from the online platform that an audience is willing to return after an unforeseen hiatus.  Period pieces are expensive to produce in order to secure production elements such as time-appropriate furniture, automobiles and compounding location shoots.  And that does not include royalties for the classic tunes accenting the episodes and keeping the energy rolling.  Add a large ensemble and the price skyrockets.  However, Netflix seemed eager to bury the show as animation was not sought as an option to finalize the series' ending.  Animation may not be inexpensive, but it can reduce pandemic risks with actors doing remote voiceovers, as well as eliminate costly sets and production.  Scrambling shows in 2020 such as Blacklist and One Day at a Time opted to animate and were welcome by desperate viewers wanting their characters back on screen.  Too many creative options were left on the table to scrap a proper ending.  Audience members may have scoffed at this idea, but would they withstand these changes to see their beloved characters receive a proper and fitting ending?

Without spoiling too much of the 3rd season's cliffhanger, GLOW showrunners at least left the series with an imperfect ending.  The Vegas production concluded, a crucial member of the production quit, and a disillusioned starlet threw in the towel on acting, as another outsmarted the very system which shorted them and secured a business deal to keep the team employed and together.  Scorned fans can at least hold this solace, and enjoy the beautiful production that showcased glamour, adventure, they eyes of the industry through women in a difficult time and plenty of era-appropriate social issues to explore.

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