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Fischer: Strike Two

By Travis Fischer,

Here we go again.

Last week the Writers Guild of America officially went on strike as their contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired.

The strike, as I’ve gleaned from various reporting and my own industry friends, is less about the exact amount that the writers are paid and more about creating protections so that writing can be a sustainable career.

With writers rooms getting smaller and streaming television seasons getting shorter, there’s a concern that full-time writing careers will give way to what is essentially freelance work.

Fischer: Strike Two
Travis Fischer

And that’s without factoring the AI uprising into the mix.

There are big issues that’ll have to be hashed out. In the meantime, as a passive observer, I’m curious to see what impact the strike has on the entertainment industry for the immediate future.

Last time around the writer’s strike was a hugely disruptive force. Remember “Heroes,” the hit NBC show about people with burgeoning superpowers that took the world by storm? Remember how its second season got cut down to an abbreviated 11 episodes?

“Heroes,” “House,” “Chuck,” “Supernatural,” and a slew of other shows all had to trim their episode count for the season.

“Breaking Bad’s” inaugural season got trimmed, only completing seven of its initial nine episodes. Clearly that didn’t stop it from becoming a success.

On the other hand, “Pushing Daisies,” the best show about a pie maker that dabbles in necromancy to ever air, definitely didn’t get the run it deserved due to the strike.

Much like how the 2020 box office records will forever come with an asterisk, anybody looking back at “retro” television years from now will notice something off about anything that aired in 2008.

I wonder what the impact will be this time around. The television landscape is very different these days. I’m sure somebody is still sitting down and flipping to a channel at a specific time to watch the latest episode of whatever police procedural or medical drama they’re hooked on, but I have to think that we are well past the point where on-demand streaming has become the rule rather than the exception.

After looking back at all the shows I was watching in 2008, I’m hard pressed to recall the last time I watched a show that was made for broadcast television. Which is not to say that shows made for streaming services aren’t being impacted by the strike, but streaming services aren’t nearly as beholden to a schedule as their broadcast counterparts are.

Streaming doesn’t have a “fall premiere” deadline to hit. Instead of bundling all their shows together hoping to capture audiences for hours at a time through the winter evenings, they sprinkle their shows throughout the year. Nobody’s going to notice if a release date is pushed back a month or two.

So while the fall broadcast television season may see a suspicious rise in unscripted programming this year, I can’t imagine many genre shows will be greatly impacted so long as the strike doesn’t go another 100 days like last time.

One would hope that the matter will be resolved quickly, but it would not surprise me to see this situation get more “interesting” before it’s over.

— Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and hopes we get another “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog” out of the bored creatives.

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