By Vida Roque
So, no Saturday Night Live this week? On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America announced that they will be going on strike. This labor union represents the screenwriters of many of your favorite TV shows and films, and without them many productions will be put on hold.
The Writers Guild of America East released their statement on their reasoning for calling a strike, stating that after six weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, etc. “their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a ‘day rate’ in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession.” The union’s demands are increased pay, better residuals, staffing requirements, shorter exclusivity deals, and assurance on AI.
Some may recall the Writers Guild of America Strike from 2007, which is responsible for the shortened season or the poor quality of that one season from your favorite TV show during that time. It is also a result of the resurgence of unscripted reality shows such as the first season of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “American Idol” as reported in Semafor.
As a result of the call on strike, late-night TV such as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” will be paused, prior to the announcement, Meyers even voiced support for writers once they went on strike. Quinta Brunson, writer, creator, and star of “Abbot Elementary” joined the picket lines, with a witty sign that said, “AI can’t write Tariq’s raps”, expressing her concern with these corporations that fail to understand the importance and value of these artists. Popular shows like “Abbott Elementary” and “Stranger Things” will experience a delay in the delivery of their next season. HBO stated that “House of the Dragon” will not experience a delay due to the script being finished before the strike commenced. However, the series can still experience a decline in quality because viewers may not know that writing is never finished even when filming, scripts are always subject to change if needed.