Finally, we can all breathe a sigh of relief as the Writers Guild of America strike ended last week.
While the strike’s end was always inevitable, the demands of the guild – from protections regarding the use of AI to do their work, to fair residual compensation in the age of streaming – were never guaranteed. Studios were more than willing to wait it out, heinously anticipating the financial pressure of the strike to be too much to bear for the writers after some time. As much was confirmed by a bombshell report from Deadline. However, in a positively delicious turn of events, they had underestimated the tenacity of WGA members, who fully understood the conditions they would be returning to if they were to cave, and it eventually turned out that the studios were the ones who could no longer bear the brunt of the financial losses they were taking, with almost every Hollywood production ground to a halt after the actors joined the picket line.
The deal they have agreed to with WGA speaks volumes, as Hollywood bigwigs, such as Disney CEO Bob Iger, came to the table and hammered out a deal that pretty much gave the writers everything they wanted in a massive win for the guild. Of course, what’s infuriating is that this deal could have been struck months ago and avoided all the stress and suffering if the studios weren’t, for lack of a better term, such greedy bastards.
It is very much worth noting, however, that the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike is still ongoing. So, while the writers can return to the writing rooms to continue developing their respective content, actors cannot return to work until their strike is resolved, though this will likely be the case soon given that their demands are somewhat similar to those of the writers, namely regarding the use of AI and residuals, not to mention Hollywood executives are clearly very eager to get back to business.
Nonetheless, fans can rejoice not only at the fact that the writers’ strike was resolved with the best possible outcome, but that production on many of the halted movies and TV shows can finally resume in anticipation of the actors returning. Here are a few things I know I’m looking forward to.
Late-Night Talk Shows
I cannot tell you how much I’ve missed late-night comedy talk shows, from the monologues of Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert (Fallon can stay off the air for all I care), even down to the occasionally awkward interview, like when Kimmel telling a visibly upset Jonah Hill that he normally smells funny. Yet, these are shows I only digest incrementally, cherry-picking what I want to see on YouTube. The show audiences have surely been clamouring for the most is perennial Emmy winner Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which continues to fill the gaping hole in the no-bullshit talk show comedy format left by Jon Stewart following his departure from The Daily Show in 2015 (no disrespect to Trevor Noah).
Whatever your tastes in this genre of television, it’s already back, as evidenced by Oliver’s return mere days following the strike’s resolution. I have yet to watch it, but I’m sure he, and other late-night hosts, have a few things to say about the studios that cynically prolonged the strike in the hopes that it would eventually flame out.
All the Shows and Movies Put on Hold
There are obviously too many to name here, and some will be on hold until the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved, but other members of crew can continue working on various aspects of writing or pre-production in anticipation of its resolution. Thus, work can commence on shows like Abbott Elementary, Daredevil: Born Again, and the second season of the brilliant Apple TV show Severance, as well as shows shot in Canada like Yellowjackets and The Last of Us, the latter of which showrunner Neil Druckmann has already promised will be “ready to go as soon as the strike ends”, while his fellow showrunner Craig Mazin had already submitted the first episode’s script to HBO the night before the strike started.
Meanwhile, productions that were already in the process of shooting will have to wait until the SAG-AFTRA strike is over, such as Deadpool 3, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2.
Less TV shows, but Likely Better Quality
There is one potential caveat many might have missed with the resolution of the writers’ strike. While they absolutely got what they deserved, the budgets of major studios and streaming giants are generally unchanging from year to year, and if more money must be paid out to writers and actors in the form of residuals, then it leaves less money in their respective budgets to put towards movies and TV shows.
While this might initially seem like a downside, as there will be less content produced, which means less choice for consumers and less work for the writers, we must remember that the writers will be better-compensated overtime for the work they’ve done, especially if they are involved in a hit, while consumers could honestly do with a little less choice.
I say this because streaming platforms have focused on extreme output as their model in recent years, with Netflix being the most notable propagator of content, but it’s increasingly become about quantity over quality. Of course, that’s not to say there haven’t been outstanding movies and TV shows produced from this model, but with studios and streamers being forced to be more conservative with what they greenlight, there should hopefully be a greater focus on quality, so that we get more of the likes of Roma and Bojack Horseman and less of Ghosted or The Hateful Eight.
Let’s just hope that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far in the other direction, where it promotes studio micromanagement that stifles the creativity of writers or makes the studios less likely to gamble on risky but inventive projects.