Last month, an overwhelming majority (98%) of members in the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to launch a strike across the nation, the first since 15 years ago. 11,000 members of the guild have begun to walk the picket line, halting production in Hollywood and soon to cause incredible economic damage.
The last time the WGA went on strike was in 2007. The 100-day strike cost Hollywood over 2 billion dollars (3 billion in today’s money). Aside from harming the industry economically, late-night shows (Such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) will halt production immediately.
Last Friday, NBC’s 12:30 a.m. late night host Seth Meyers expressed how, as a proud member of the WGA, he thought that the strikes don’t “just affect the writers, it affects all the incredible nonwriting staff on these shows. And it would really be a miserable thing for people to have to go through, especially considering we’re on the heels of that awful pandemic.”
An important issue in this strike is compensation. In this decade of “Peak TV,” scripted TV has boomed. Beforehand, many shows contained dozens of episodes in a season, yet now we’re lucky if we get double digits, which translates to lower weekly paychecks.
Another sore spot for the writers are “minirooms.” These have no concrete explanation, but an example could be studios bringing in a small group of writers to formulate a script before the show is even greenlit, leading to decreased pay.
This doesn’t only affect pay, though, as it disrupts the art of screenwriting. This includes not only writing scripts and editing or rewriting them, but also actually working with the actors and other crew members who focus on design, sound, and filming. This practice disconnects the writers from the production. This point is hammered home by the WGA’s criticism of studios turning writing into a freelance “gig economy.”
But what does this have to do with you as a consumer? The 2007-8 strike was a while ago, so things have changed in the world of screenwriters, right? Not really. We will almost certainly see the same effects as then.
First, late-night shows and others of that kind will be shut down, as scripts aren’t written until a day or two before the show, and reruns or other filler will take its place. Next, shows in production will be hit, and might halt them until the strike ends. Afterwards, any shows that have been renewed or green-lit will be postponed until further notice.
The bottom line is that writers are being underpaid and underappreciated. They’re being cut out of their own business. We need to support those that make their living off of creating shows that take us away from our day-to-day life and let us escape to others’ realities (albeit more interesting ones, more often than not) or fantasies.
Hello, my name is Luke Fann. I love to read and write myself into a fantastical realm, but I love all genres. Of course, such a task requires assistance from my parents and older brother. I've feasted on alligators and tamed beasts like alpacas (my favorite animal), but none of that compares to my greatest weapon: a pencil. I am an editor here for the City Voice, and this is my second year writing for it.