UPDATE: OCTOBER 19, 2020—Two weeks after Netflix announced it is not bringing GLOW back for a fourth and final season, the female actors of color released a statement outlining past concerns they had with the show.
Britney Young, Sydelle Noel, Sunita Mani, Ellen Wong, Kia Stevens, and Shakira Barrera posted a letter they had sent to GLOW's cocreators and executive producers Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch and executive producer Jenji Kohan over the summer. In the letter—sent months before Netflix canceled the series—they wrote that, although they were extremely grateful for their roles on the show, they also felt “disempowered.”
“GLOW has been marketed as a diverse ensemble, but for all of us diverse cast members, it has never lived up to these ideals,” the letter read. “Since season one, the show has planted racial stereotyping into our character's existence, yet our storylines are relegated to the sidelines in dealing with this conflict or have left us feeling like checked boxes on a list…. There is incredible support, love, and camaraderie amidst the GLOW cast, and it should go without saying that we are not here to take down our white castmates or our show, but to elevate us all in a deeper, more significant way.”
The women also pointed out there were no persons of color in the writers room “this season." (The letter was unclear if that referred to the upcoming fourth season or season three.) “It is a huge oversight to be writing our narratives without anyone else to represent us besides ourselves… The meta narrative of our show—actors dealing with the conflict of perpetuating stereotypes in order to have opportunity—is exactly what is happening in our real life,” they wrote. “We feel both devalued in our skillset and only valued for the diversity that we bring.”
Barrera, Mani, Noel, Stevens, Wong, and Young said that Flahive, Mensch, and Kohan—as well as Netflix executives—were quick to take action after receiving this letter over the summer and set up an open dialogue. “I was so afraid to speak on these issues to my bosses, whom I respect and think are so brilliant, but was deeply moved by the support of my fellow castmates,” Mani wrote.
Added Young, “Our concerns were met with responsiveness and accountability; followed by several emotional, honest, and supportive Zoom calls where our producers worked with us to devise a plan for season four that would remedy our concerns. I do not take this collaboration for granted, as it's very rare in this industry, but to actually put change into action is something this world needs more of.”
Young said that while she's very sad fans will never see those changes, “This experience has empowered me in so many ways, both personally and professionally.”
Cocreator and executive producer Flahive wrote on her private Instagram page, which Glamour has permission to reprint: “A few months ago, Britney, Sydelle, Kia, Ellen, Suni, and Shakira wrote us a letter. Together they spoke up privately about a variety of things they were thinking and feeling about GLOW. They wanted changes. The letter was hard to read. It was harder because so much of what they said resonated with us.
“We came together and had hours of difficult, emotional, nuanced conversations on Zoom. We moved past the letter and got very specific. About days. Moments. Episodes. Arcs. Choices. We all made ourselves incredibly vulnerable. And then Carly and I went away and talked and thought more. And then, we took action. We talked through our plans with Netflix. And then we brought our plans of new storylines, new depths, new approaches and new hires for production—back to the girls.”
Flahive went on to say that “Netflix taking away our season four means something more than simply not ending our show. We had more work to do on so many fronts. Work that will never be seen. Work that we all deemed essential just wasn't ultimately essential to our network in the end.”
To be clear, Flahive and the women are not saying Netflix canceled the show because of the changes that were going to be implemented. If anything, they indicate that Netflix was nothing but supportive of the changes set to take place. The letter simply indicates season four was going to be a game changer, which is why the cancellation is particularly disappointing.
Flahive ended her note by saying, “We wish we had gotten to talk about all of this within the context of releasing our fourth and final season. But the girls will speak to what this all means to them. Read their letter. Read their posts.”
From Britney Young (“Carmen”):
From Sydelle Noel (“Cherry”):
From Sunita Mani (“Arthie”):
From Shakira Barrera (“Yolanda”):
From Ellen Wong (“Jenny”):
From Kia Stevens (“Tamme”):
We have reached out to Netflix for comment and will update this post if more information becomes available.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 10, 2020—Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, Britney Young, Kate Nash, and the entire ensemble cast of GLOW reunited for a livestream panel five days after Netflix officially announced it would not move forward with the show’s fourth and final season. During the event—moderated by Glamour West Coast editor Jessica Radloff to benefit voting initiatives HeadCount and #GoodToVote—the cast confirmed their interest in doing a movie to close out the series.
“There’s a petition out there, and it would be a very exciting thing that Netflix could do if they wanted to do it,” Maron said, echoing his previous comments on his Instagram Live about wanting to do a film. “I think it would probably solve the problem. It would be fun to do, it would be easy to do, but who the fuck knows what they’re going to do. I think it’s a great idea, and I hope people rally enough behind it to raise the interests of the executives over there.”
When asked if the cast would be on board with a movie send-off, everyone nodded in agreement, with several cast members saying, “Hell yes.”
The cast had been filming season four when production shut down in mid-March because of the pandemic. Deadline also reported that the series regulars had been paid in full for the season.
“We scheduled this Zoom when we thought we still had a season four, so it feels like we invited you to our wedding and then the groom had sex with a cross-eyed cocktail waitress and now we’re all just drunk at the venue together, and we’re like, ‘Enjoy the quiches now because it’s over,’” Gilpin said. “If this wedding is a funeral, let’s make it one of those fun, great ones.”
The cast got emotional discussing their favorite memories from the show, explaining how being part of the ensemble made them feel they belonged. “I learned that GLOW was where I needed to be,” Young said. “I had been dreaming about being an actor forever, and never thought I would have been doing this. I learned I shouldn’t have been scared to chase this dream in the beginning because it’s clearly where I was supposed to be.”
Sunita Mani (who plays Artie) echoed similar thoughts. “I got a chance to make a version of myself that I always wanted to be. To actually feel that [by] working with these women…to actually accept yourself as microcosm of the world I want to live in and see, it’s a journey of embracing yourself. It felt like I belonged here.”
Jackie Tohn (MelRose) also expressed what the show meant to her. “I sort of fancy myself as this powerful bitch who is tough and strong, and I didn’t realize until we did GLOW how many times I repeatedly told myself I couldn’t do something. I had this internal voice that said, ‘You’re not strong, you’re not athletic, your only value is that you’re funny, you’re not as pretty as everybody else, you’re not as young as everybody else, you’re too big, you’re too much….’ I’ve been acting since I was nine, and I got GLOW in my 30s. I had a lot of years of people saying, ‘It’s not you, man,’ and I didn’t notice how many things I told myself I couldn’t do. And GLOW reversed it and gave me a lot of my value back. It gave me these friendships and this confidence and this feeling that I am more than this person that can just make people laugh.”
To hear more from the cast, including what Maron and Brie thought about Sam and Ruth as a couple, and what fans can do help “save” the show, watch the panel below.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 5, 2020—GLOW will not move forward with its season-four plans due to COVID-19-related reasons, Deadline confirmed in October 2020.
Sadly, though, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling will soon be hanging up their costumes, as this will be the final season of the show, which stars Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron, alongside an ensemble cast of women. While we don't have many details on the final 10-episode run, it’s safe to assume that the fourth season will address the cliffhanger at the end of season three, where it appeared that Ruth (Brie) and Debbie (Gilpin) were headed in different directions after the gang’s successful run in Las Vegas.
Here’s everything we know so far about GLOW season four.
The premiere date: Timing has not been announced, but typically new GLOW episodes stream in the summer.
The showrunners: Cocreators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch will be back to helm the show as it ends its run. “We have a full story to tell and whether or not we’re idiots for not giving ourselves an ending this season remains to be seen,” Flahive told THR before news of the renewal broke. “We’ve played it this way every season, where we’ve sort of left it all on the field. This show has a big heart and a big cast and big story to tell, and other people are not going to set that limit for us. We can’t do that, because it wouldn’t be fair to what we’re trying to do. We’d love to have the opportunity to give the show a satisfying ending.”
The cast: No guest stars have been announced, but we’re hoping for more Geena Davis, who was a standout addition in the third season—and the returning cast sounds super excited for the final season. “They have sort of screwed themselves by making the model be that there is no model—that they have to reinvent the wheel every season,” Gilpin said of a fourth season. “So I hope they are hard at work reinventing the wheel. Because this is the greatest job ever, and I want to do it again and again.”
Brie also shared a note about the new season to Instagram. “Excited to announce that GLOW will be back for a fourth and final season!” the actress wrote. “I wish I never had to say goodbye to these characters, but I am so grateful to get one more round with our incredible team. You better believe we’re GLOWing out with a bang! 💥💪🏼💥💪🏼💥💪🏼”
And Jackie Tohn, who plays Melrose, shared a heartwarming message on her social media about the show’s impact on her life. “GLOW SEASON FOUR BABY!!! Fourth and final. Wow. So bittersweet,” Tohn wrote. “Such a gift to be able to prepare for that time but man do I love making this show with these f*cking weirdos. And man am I gonna miss it. Thank you Glow - for letting me be my loud quirky Jewish self when, for decades, I was told I was too much or too outside the box or did I say ‘too much’ already. Oof I needed this cry. Best experience of my life. Until the next best experience of my life. Thank you.”
This post will be updated as more details emerge.
Originally Appeared on Glamour