The Writers Strike: Why TV and Movie Quality Might Soon Plummet
The WGA Writer Strike just started, and we're already starting to feel the repercussions.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is a film and TV writers union. For the last six months, the WGA has been in a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing major film and television studios like Walt Disney, Sony, Amazon, Apple, NBC, Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros. However, they have been unable to come to a satisfying agreement, so per the April 18 vote, where 97% of members decided to strike, the strike began on May 2.
The last time the WGA went on strike was in 2007 and lasted 100 days when writers wanted to restructure how DVD residuals were distributed. Now, a similar restructuring is being requested regarding streaming residuals.
The WGA renegotiates its contract, The Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), with AMPTP every three years. Currently, the contract only covers broadcast television writers, not those who write for streaming television, leaving those writers to negotiate their contracts individually. As a result, they generally receive less pay.
The introduction of AI, like Chat GPT, threatens to downsize the jobs available to writers. Part of the strike's demands is to regulate the use of AIs in the writing process.
The demands also list that the AMPTP "address the abuse of mini rooms." Typically, writing rooms have 7-10 people on staff at any given moment, but that number has decreased to barely a handful. More importantly, these mini rooms only keep writers on staff for a short time, forcing them to do more work in less time with less help.
So why do we care?
As a writer, I've always dreamed of someday writing for a tv show or movie. As a potential future member of the WGA, I fully support their cause and have even seen the effects of AI integration and an undervaluing our profession in other types of writing jobs.
As someone who loves watching tv shows and movies to the point where I started an entire blog to combine my two favorite things, I'm concerned about the quality of television during the strike.
We're already feeling the effects of the strike for award season. Drew Barrymore dropped out of hosting the MTV Movie Awards in solidarity, and producers have decided not to replace her.
Because the strike is predicted to last at least two months, shows scheduled to return in the fall will likely be delayed. Shows like Abbott Elementary will probably have their next season pushed. Shows that produce immediate content, like The Daily Show, SNL, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Late Night with Seth Meyers, have already paused production until further notice.
Unscripted content like reality shows, game shows, and sports will probably be unaffected. Streaming services have such a vast amount of content that there will still be something to watch. It's unclear how much unreleased backlogged content exists for streaming services, but what they have will slowly trickle out until the strike ends. It's predicted that movies won't be affected until next year if production is paused or delayed.
Because we're still only a few days into the strike, it's hard to specify when and how much it'll affect television and movies.