Why does Netflix keep cancelling its female-fronted shows?

From Netflix’s GLOW to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, we’ve lost too many great TV shows about women this year.

Another one bites the dust today, as Netflix’s GLOW has been cancelled – despite having already been confirmed for a fourth and final season.

In a statement, Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch – the creators of the popular wrestling dramedy – explained that their show has become the latest casualty of Covid-19 after lockdown restrictions forced production to shut down earlier this year.

“Covid has killed actual humans. It’s a national tragedy and should be our focus. Covid also apparently took down our show,” they told Deadline.

We were handed the creative freedom to make a complicated comedy about women… and now that’s gone.

Flahive and Mensch added: “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.”

They finished: “There’s a lot of shitty 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.

“We’ll miss our cast of weirdo clowns and our heroic crew. It was the best job.”

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A riot of hot pink leotards and 80s nostalgia, GLOW took us through the audition process for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, as well as the fictionalisation of the characters involved.

And, boasting a brilliant team of female writers and a knockout cast of women at the top of their acting game (think Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Sydelle Noel, and Sunita Mani, to name just a few), GLOW pulled out all the stops to give fans everywhere an inspirational story of female empowerment.

Now, though, it’s all over. And, sadly, it’s not the only female-fronted TV show to get canned in 2020.

Far from it, in fact.

So far this year, we’ve seen Netflix pull the plug on Teenage Bounty Hunters, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, I Am Not OK With This, Marianne, and The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance.

Last year, too, we lost Drew Barrymore’s Santa Clarita Diet. And Anne With An E. And Jessica Jones.

And let’s not forget, too, that we lost The OA. As in, yes, the sci-fi show created by and starring Brit Marling. As in, yes, the sci-fi show which, when it was unceremoniously axed by Netflix after two seasons, incited intense fan outcry, a flashmob, and even a hunger strike.

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We get it, of course: not every TV series can be expected to last forever. But these were all much-loved shows, not least of all because they boasted complex and multifaceted heroines – the kind which, sadly, you rarely see in mainstream television.

Perhaps more important than even this, though, is the fact that GLOW and co weren’t just well received by critics: they were popular with viewers, too, with dedicated fans who were desperate to see their favourite female characters’ stories through to the very end.

We can only hope that Netflix plans to fill the void with yet more brilliant shows led by women and girls. Or that, just maybe, they may change their minds on the fate of some of these series in the post-Covid world.

Because, as we’ve said before, you can’t be what you can’t see – and we, all of us, need to feel represented on screen.

Roll on a 2021 filled with a plethora of female-fronted shows, then, please. 

Images: Netflix

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