Your favorite series in great danger in the USA? Shortened seasons, cancellations… The new writers' strike is a real earthquake in Hollywood

Your favorite series in great danger in the USA? Shortened seasons , cancellations... The new writers' strike is a real earthquake in Hollywood

By Quentin Piton Journalist Series – Cinema Journalist specializing in series, cinema, but also anime and manga. Spends his time dreaming of Emma Watson, considers Olivier Giroud the GOAT and refuses to speak with those who are against the absolute truth which is: How I Met Your Mother is a better series than Friends. Back to the past. Like what had already happened in 2007/2008, the screenwriters decided to go on strike in the USA. A situation far from trivial since it could have serious consequences on your current favorite series.

It wasn't an earthquake that just hit Hollywood, it was a meteor that hit the whole industry overnight. And as in bad, ultra-cliched American blockbusters, we owe this catastrophe – which could have been avoided, to selfish leaders unable to see the big picture.

Writers on strike in Hollywood

We have been unable to reach agreements with studios and streaming platforms, the Writers Guild of America said on Monday, May 1, 2023. So we will go on strike as soon as the current contract ends at midnight“. You read correctly, screenwriters (whether they work for series, talk shows, reality TV or cinema) are now at the shutdown.

In question ? While the WGA had been in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (which brings together 9 of the biggest studios in Hollywood) since March 20 about a three-year contract renewal, the union unfortunately saw its claims, however legitimate, to be brushed aside by the AMPTP.

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In recent years, with the emergence of streaming platforms in particular, the working conditions of screenwriters have gradually evolved with shorter contracts and a mishandled redistribution of copyright, which has inevitably led to lower wages and job insecurity. of career. According to the WGA, where 33% of screenwriters for TV series/shows were paid minimum wage in 2013, they are now 50% today.

An unbearable situation for the main concerned, often forced to live in Los Angeles or New York for work (two of the most expensive cities in the country), and all the more unfair since the world of series has never been so important. . In 2022, 599 series/original shows were broadcast in the USA, when there were only 210 in 2009. Madness.

What impact on series?

Something unimportant to us? No way. We remember, a movement of such magnitude had already hit Hollywood between 2007 and 2008 when, for 100 days, nearly 12,000 screenwriters had retired to make their rights heard. Result ? According to the Milken Institute, the industry had suffered enormously during this period with the loss of 38,000 behind-the-scenes jobs and the loss of $2.1 billion.

More visibly and noticeably, < strong>this strike notably put a stop to the daily talk shows which, for lack of writers to cover the news and write the jokes, had no more content to offer. A real blow for these institutional formats, which is already doomed to repeat itself this year. It has just been confirmed, the programs of Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert or even Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers will no longer be broadcast this week.

As for the series, nothing has yet been announced. On the other hand, if one looks closely at the impact of the movement in 2007, one can fear many frustrating situations with endless or inconsistent seasons.At the time, many playoff seasons had indeed had to be shortened since, at the end of the strike, the teams no longer had enough time to complete the initial plans. To this end, season 1 of The Big Bang Theory had only been composed of 17 episodes out of the 22 planned, season 3 of Criminal Minds had only benefited only 20 out of 25 episodes, season 4 of Desperate Housewiveshad only been able to count on 17 episodes out of 23, and season 4 of Grey's Anatomy had only offered 17 episodes out of the 23 envisaged.

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Series in danger?

But that's not all, like what happened in 2007/2008, this strike will logically postpone the production of certain series by a few weeks/months, which could thus shift their out on our screens. In other words, do not expect to discover season 5 of Stranger Things, season 2 of The Last of Us or that of Rings of Power before very long in case this movement drags on.

Finally, and this is the most dramatic, also prepare to say goodbye to series. Where the future of certain fictions was already uncertain due to disappointing audiences, the streaming channels/platforms could take advantage of the situation to limit the costs by canceling them so as not to have to pay the teams unnecessarily. And inevitably, this would imply sloppy conclusions, even… absent. This was particularly the case with 4400 which will remain forever endless, just like Bionic Woman, Men in Trees or even Girlfriends< /em>.

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Less content in the coming months?

Note that this strike could also motivate streaming platforms to review their model, a bit like what was put in place during the Covid-19 epidemic, whether by postponing the release of their projects or well (for Netflix) opting for weekly releases to keep content in stock until productions resume. At this rate, we could face a shortage of new releases by the start of the school year/end of the year and therefore… license rentals of old series/old films by the platforms to continue to feed catalogs.

The cinema will not be spared

For the record, know that the world of cinema will be impacted just as much. Not in the next few months, but in the long term. With this strike, some projects just launched could be thrown in the trash (the fault of planning problems for example), while others could be postponed for several months.

The worst? We could end up with new projects like James Bond – Quantum of Solace which, because of an already fully launched and expensive production, could see the teams improvise live by rewriting certain sequences in their own way to fill in gaps or flaws. However, writing is a job and when the “substitutes” are new to the field, you shouldn't expect anything other than shaky results.