This week brought the shocking news from Netflix that their fan favorite wrestling drama GLOW wouldn't be returning for a fourth season, despite already being renewed by the streamer and even starting filming before the coronavirus pandemic. Reports indicated that the series was given the axe due to COVID-19. GLOW wasn't even the only series this week that suffered the same fate as Showtime's On Becoming a God in Central Florida starring Kirsten Dunst was also cancelled despite a renewal. These are just the latest shows over the past few months to fall prey to these circumstances, and Hollywood thinks that it will continue.
Other shows that have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year along include the Netflix shows I Am Not Okay With This and The Society, plus ABC's Stumptown, USA Network's Evel, and TruTV's I'm Sorry. The story you're currently reading couldn't even be completed before Netflix pumped the breaks on another show, cancelling further development on The Magic Order, based on Mark Millar's comic series, due to the ongoing pandemic. The main reason for all of this? Cost. Filming in the age of COVID makes things much more expensive.
"It really depends on the show itself but I'm going to give you a rough number and say it's between $300,000 and $500,000 additional per episode for PPE," TV producer Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery, Clarice) revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. "It's just in keeping people safe — and that's not a number you can skimp on."
As the trade notes, an additional half a million dollars per episode could sky rocket costs for broadcast shows with a 22 episode order. Costs aren't the only reason that shows are getting "unrenewed" though as scheduling also plays an important factor. Not only in terms of the availability of actors but also in how networks can schedule their own programming. THR notes that Stumptown wouldn't have been able to air new episodes until April of next year, putting it on at a time of year where its ratings would have suffered and made the cost of the series not worth it in the end for ABC.
Even though production on a lot of shows and movies has resumed in the face of the pandemic, not everything will be so lucky. As one unnamed source said to THR in their piece, "plenty" of other shows will no doubt end prematurely as well.