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Writers’ Strike Impact: How Your Favorite TV Shows Will Change

Television has been a constant in the lives of many during the pandemic, providing a much-needed escape from reality. However, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) announced on May 1 that it had not agreed with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new contract to provide tenable working conditions for its members. As a result, the WGA has called for a general strike that includes TV and film writers across the United States. This news has left many wondering what the strike means for their favorite shows. Here’s what you need to know.

What Happens to Late-Night Talk Shows?

Late-night talk shows are written on an extremely tight schedule to stay topical, which means that they cannot have any episodes banked for future use. As a result, shows such as The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and NBC’s Tonight have all shut down production. This also means no more Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, or Saturday Night Live. Fans of late-night shows may need to find a new source of entertainment for now.

Cable Television and Major Network Shows

Network TV is also being affected by the strike. Shows such as NBC’s Night Court and Starz’s The Venery of Samantha Bird and Power Book III: Raising Kanan have closed their writers’ rooms. CBS’s Evil wrapped production early after picketing writers disrupted filming. Cable television is also being affected, with Disney Channel’s Bunk’d and Freeform’s While You Were Breeding shutting down production due to the strike. While most major-network TV shows have already wrapped for the summer, if the strike extends as long as the 2007–8 run, it would eat into the prep time for those shows before they return in the fall. The strike also affects pilot season, meaning we may not get many new shows in the fall.

What about Soap Operas?

Soap operas have many episodes at their disposal, with many filmed months in advance. This means that the genre has a stockpile of episodes before it runs out of new ones. Days of Our Lives has content until the fall, while General Hospital has a month of prerecorded episodes. The Young and the Restless will likely pause first, with less than a month of episodes remaining. During the previous strike, soaps mostly stayed on due to prerecorded episodes and the efforts of writers in the guild’s “financial core.”

Streaming Services 

Streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime tend to bank many more shows than network TV, so it would take longer for them to feel the real effects. However, shows such as Hacks, Unstable, Big Mouth, Cobra Kai, and Yellowjackets have all closed their writers’ rooms. The Community movie for Peacock is also reported to have been delayed. The Duffer Brothers, creators of Stranger Things, announced that they would postpone production on the final season due to the strike. While Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has stated that they have a large base of upcoming shows and films worldwide, it’s unclear how much they rely on American staff writers. Streamers may have to be more informed about the pace at which they put out new content.

To Wrap Up

The Writers’ Strike will undoubtedly have consequences for the entertainment industry. Fans of late-night shows and linear TV may need to find alternative sources of entertainment for the time being. While soap operas have a stockpile of episodes, streamers such as Netflix may need to be more careful about the pace at which they put out new content. However, if the strike extends as long as the 2007–8 run did, it could eat into the prep time for shows before they return in the fall. The strike also affects pilot season, meaning we may not get many new shows in the fall. Fans must wait and see how the entertainment industry weathers the storm.

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