Television: Summer and the Writers’ Strike

“Now is the summer of our discontent . . .”  Didn’t Shakespeare write this?  As we move to summer months, we are faced with a fall and winter where viewers may become discontented over viewing choices.

It looks like the Writers’ Strike is happening folks.  Now, at this time of year, you may be wondering why it is a big deal.  Granted, the summer isn’t a time when most people worry about television.  Here’s why:

  • People are on vacation or outside doing sports/nature related things.
  • Networks go to repeats or try out shows that they liked but didn’t make it to fall.
  • Shows air that have already been taped.
  • Reality — need I say more with Big Brother looming for three nights this summer!

Yes, it looks like with what I’ve said above that summer is well prepared to survive the writers loss but you have to look beyond the known to the unknown.  I’ve been through one strike before with favorite shows and remember their demise which was blamed on the strike.  Let’s put it this way:

  • If a show is returning next year, production has either already started or starts in late July or early August for September premieres.  The very least is that they get back in a short time span and can begin work.  Otherwise, the new shows could be delayed until November, December, February or beyond.  Can you remember the plot that long?
  • If a show is a pilot that has been approved, very few scripts have been stockpiled to be filmed.
  • If a show has a tentative green light, production may just be getting underway.
  • If the writer’s walk, unfinished scripts stay that way (unless someone crosses the picket line).
  • If the show is a talk show, I hope the host doesn’t belong to the union or at least has writing abilities.
  • For soap operas, I hope that fans love reruns.

And for a little historical background information, soap operas, which in my opinion was holding on by a thread, may be history after this strike  Both One Life to Live and All My Children lost long-time viewers during the last strike.  Their future is very uncertain, I believe, now.

Now a writer’s strike doesn’t mean that it will last for a long period of time.  In fact, it could be very short.  The problem is that no matter how long the writers are out, the creative process and plans are put on hold.  There are benefits for writers being out.  The last time, Joss Whedon did Dr. Horrible Sing-a-Long Blog which grew a audience of itself.  And new shows are born out of creative minds at rest.

I understand that the writers feel they are getting a raw deal.  I’m actually glad they are speaking out about their conditions versus the big wigs and their big bucks.  Unfortunately their walking out means that other who cannot at this time (the camera operators, sound guys, musicians associated with the program, make-up, costume, assistants,and actors) are all out of work.  While it’s not fair, it’s the way of life.  The good thing that may come out of this is that the underpaid people associated with the industry also gets the benefits that the writers are seeking.

Granted, I’m not a television writer although I often thought I’d like to be one.  I have no idea of all the complexities of the business although I have friends who have been or are associated with it.  The one thing I know is that the union wasn’t getting anywhere and felt that they had to take a vote and did.  Negotiations are still ongoing so there is hope.  I just hope we don’t see an influx of reality shows staring people wanting 15 minutes of fame.

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