NOOO: Stranger Things S5 & Other Huge Shows Have Already Been Affected By The Writers’ Strike

If you weren’t taking The Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) strike seriously, it’s time to switch on because even though we’re only seven days in, it’s already affecting some of your favourite shows.

Stranger Things co-creators and show-runners Matt and Ross Duffer took to Twitter to announce that production on the fifth and final season of the show is “not possible” while the writers’ strike is happening.

“Duffers here,” they began in a tweet from their Stranger Writers Twitter account.

“Writing does now stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike.

“We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then – over and out,” they said.

Stranger Things isn’t the only show that’s copped disruptions since the strike began, either.

Vulture has reported that TV dramas Hacks, Unstable, and The Venery of Samantha Bird have permanently shut down production until an agreement is reached and the strike has settled.

The other shows which are reported to have halted production are American Horror Story, Evil, Billions, and Loot. 

ICYMI: Hollywood’s writers are going on strike for the first time since 2007 (more than 15 years ago!!) and it’s a huge fucking deal not just for the US, but for us too. Here’s what you need to know.

Last Monday, the WGA announced in a spicy statement that its 11,500 (!!!) members will stop going to work from Tuesday after a unanimous vote from its Negotiating Committee, the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America West, and the Council of the Writers Guild of America.

The decision came after a breakdown in negotiations between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents most of your fave streaming companies and film studios.

“The decision was made following six weeks of negotiations with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP),” the statement said.

“The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing.”

Why are writers striking?

The writers strike is a response to an increasingly precarious workforce where writers aren’t earning residuals (basically like the screenwriters’ version of royalties) at a rate they should be.

Basically, companies pay less residuals for streaming shows rather than shows that are broadcast on actual television, which might have made sense 10 years ago but not so much at a time when streaming is how most shows are distributed. Screenwriters for streaming shows also get a set amount regardless of if the show flops or flies — but writers for TV shows can earn more if the show is a hit.

Think about it: the biggest shows from the last year (Succession, House of the Dragon, The White Lotus, Stranger Things) are all streaming shows. Why should a writer earn less based on this difference in medium, and if their show takes off, why shouldn’t they earn more? Lord knows the streaming giant hosting the shows will.

This issue means writers who are really fkn good at their jobs aren’t getting the raises they deserve and wages are stagnating. And when streaming giants cut costs by dropping old shows out of their catalogues, writers stop earning money from those shows.

There’s also a growing issue of writers being forced to work contractually rather than being offered stable positions — something that’s gotten worse now that streaming companies have discovered they can just create a 10-episode season instead of a longer one.

Who cares if shortening seasons means shows become rushed and the quality greatly diminishes? It’s worth it if it means writers can just be hired for a short stint as contractors rather than be given a proper job!

The WGA accused the companies it listed — all of which are streaming giants that have raked in billions off the back of their writers’ talents —  of creating “a gig economy inside a union workforce”, and said their “immovable stance… betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing”.

“From 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. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”

Imagine what life would have been like in lockdown without your favourite shows. Just imagine. Give the people what they want!

Which TV shows will be affected by the writers strike?

Scripted TV shows that are shot live in America (like late night talk shows) will be hit first by the writers strike, since a huge chunk of their staff are WGA members who write the script as the show runs. Imagine Jimmy Fallon trying to crack his own jokes — yeah, no, things will probably fall apart pretty soon. Enter: reruns.

Next on the chopping block are your daytime soapy dramas which are actually filmed kinda close to when they air, so if the strike goes long enough, these will also probably start airing reruns.

Your bigger shows, especially ones on streaming giants, will probably be fine for the next few weeks though, since these episodes are filmed in advance and are all finished by the time they’re airing. BUT. If the strike goes long enough, it’ll impact streaming shows since the new writing season typically starts in the US “fall”, AKA our spring, AKA in three months. However, as mentioned above, these shows are already experiencing production delays just one week into the strike.

Movies that air on the big screen are probably going to be fine, though. Those releases are planned months if not years in advance.

How long will the writers strike last?

Until the WGA and AMPTP come to an agreement, basically. It’s an interesting one because the WGA have very valid points, and they’re not planning to back down. I guess the question is, how long before the AMPTP caves?

The 2007 strike lasted 100 days and saw the death of many a TV show (more on that later), and the strike before that in 1988 went on for five months.

Contracts for the guilds which cover actors and directors expire on 30 June, and if they join the writers strike, shit will hit the fan real quick — there’s no way to create new shows without any actors, writers, or directors.

However, it’s worth noting that the way we consume TV has changed dramatically — we have a huuuuuge backlog of TV shows and movies to watch online while we wait out the strike, and this means streaming giants probably won’t feel much urgency in creating new content. There’s enough to keep us satisfied for a while.

What happened the last time writers went on strike in 2007?

I’m so glad you asked. The infamous 2007 writers strike, in which every good TV show went to shit (yes, there’s a reason Heroes went from iconic to dogshit), involved writers fighting for better residuals (back then it was regarding DVD sales), better protections for reality TV writers and animators, and better payment for people working on shows that were being broadcast on the internet — something that was only just born.

The strike is infamous because of how intensely it impacted US television — Lost, Breaking Bad, The Simpsons, The Office, Mad Men, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl were all affected, and you can fkn tell when you go back and rewatch shows of the time.

Like my beloved Heroes (rest in pieces) the quality of these shows obviously dropped significantly after the writers fucked off. Late night talk shows were left to rely on their hosts, and a huge 25 per cent of primetime scripted TV was lost completely.

However, the strike wasn’t bad for all TV shows — because reality TV staff are typically not part of the WGA, are paid less and their shows are cheaper to produce, these unscripted shows filled the void on television and were catapulted into popularity. You can thank the 2007 strike for resurgence of love for Big Brother and Celebrity Apprentice, plus the birth of shows like Real Housewives and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, both of which launched around this time.

Power to the strikers. We need writers for good TV shows, and they deserve to be compensated for their work. Pop off!