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How The WGA Strike Could Affect Your Favorite Shows

As of May 2, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is calling a strike. This labor union represents over 11,000 writers behind Hollywood’s TV shows, movies, and radio programs. Their writers’ work is behind hit programs like Abbott Elementary and Saturday Night Live. After weeks of negotiation for a fair deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the union called for a strike, causing many shows and production in Hollywood to come to a halt. Here is everything you need to know about the WGA strike of 2023, from why the decision was made to which of your favorite shows will be impacted. 

Why is the WGA striking? 

The Writers Guild of America had a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that was set to end on May 1. This trade association is responsible for representing major Hollywood studios, such as Netflix and Disney, in negotiations with guild and union contracts. The contract is meant to ensure the writers are getting paid fair wages, which have been impacted by the increase in streaming platforms. With the contract ending on May 1, the WGA and AMPTP had to come to an agreement, and if not, a strike would be commenced. 

Talks of a strike have been going on since March 2023. The WGA March report showed that screenwriters’ compensation has declined by 4% over the past decade despite working more weeks than ever. Negotiations with AMPTP started March 20, where the union was seeking $600 million in wage increases and other demands

At the beginning of April, the WGA called on their members to vote “yes” for a strike authorization because according to the WGA, “the studios need to respond to the crisis writers face.” If voted yes, this would give the WGA leadership authorization to call a strike after the contract ends if AMPTP isn’t able to meet their demands. ​​In mid-April, the WGA voted to authorize a strike with 97.85% of the union in favor, making it the first strike in 15 years. Among those who were in support of authorizing were Daniel Kwan, co-director of Everything Everywhere All at Once, and many other well-known writers behind the big screen. 

On May 1, the strike was confirmed via a tweet by WGA and started on May 2. This strike comes after six weeks of failed negotiations with AMPTP to find a fair deal that adequately pays screenwriters. Picketing has commenced and demonstrations will take place in New York and Los Angeles. 

How will this impact TV and movie production?

In the fight for fair pay, the entertainment industry will experience a slowdown and, in some cases, a shut-off in production. The immediate changes will occur in the late night shows, which are covered by the WGA. This includes Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Saturday Night Live also confirmed they will no longer be producing new episodes starting May 6. These shows will be immediately off-air and might stay there for multiple weeks. Other shows from the channels and reruns will be on air in their place

Fan-favorite shows will also feel the effects of the strike. Emmy-winning Abott Elementary was set to have a meeting with the writers for the third season on May 2. Due to the strike, that is no longer happening and could impact the number of episodes the third season has or when the premiere date is. 

Jon Hurowitz, screenwriter for Netflix hit Cobra Kai, came to Twitter to say, “We hate to strike, but if we must, we strike hard. Pencils down in the Cobra Kai writers’ room. No writers on set.” After just one day in the writers’ room for Season 3 of Yellowjackets, the writers’ work has come to a stop. Co-creator Ashley Lyle said they will resume working once WGA achieves “a fair deal.” Shows that have already turned in their scripts, such as House of the Dragon, will continue filming. 

Fans of shows and movies might not see the effect of the strike till later on. Depending on how long the strike lasts, schedules for shows and movies meant to premiere on streaming services in the fall might be pushed to a later date. As for films, they might see a drop in quality or slower production as there is a lack of writers in the workroom. 

This is not the first time fan-favorite shows have seen a dip in quality due to a WGA strike. In 2007, another writers’ strike affected hit shows from shortened seasons to a change in plot. Gossip Girl took a three-month break and produced a shorter season, causing fans to be left on a cliffhanger. Grey’s Anatomy‘s fourth season only had 16 of the promised 23 episodes. The Office missed 11 episodes and experienced a hiatus between Seasons 4 and 5. Additionally, One Tree Hill’s fifth season was shorter. It’s likely that shows of today will experience similar effects due to this strike. 

There is no clear timeline for when a deal will be reached between WGA and AMPTP. As for now, writers and supporters alike are teaming up in the fight for fair compensation in the entertainment industry.

Hannah Tolley is a contributing writer under the Entertainment and Culture vertical. She covers entertainment releases, fan theories, pop culture news, and more. Aside from Her Campus, Hannah was also a member of the Florida State University (FSU) Her Campus team. During her time with the chapter, she served as a staff writer for three semesters, where she wrote biweekly pieces across campus, culture, and personal verticals. She also was a content editor for two semesters, where she led a team of 6+ writers and oversaw and edited their articles. Hannah was also an editorial intern for Her Campus during her spring and summer term of her second year in college. As an intern, she worked alongside the full-time edit team to curate timely and evergreen pieces across life, culture, career, and style verticals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from FSU in May 2023, with a Bachelor of Science in Media/Communication Studies with a minor in English. When she's not dissecting the latest pop culture events, you can find her reading a cheesy romance novel or establishing parasocial relationships with fictional TV characters. She loves to rewatch her favorite shows (Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Friends) or spend the day going down a rabbit hole of reality dating shows.