What you need to know about the WGA strike

The Writer’s Guild of America is officially on strike

People picket outside of Paramount Pictures on the first day of the Hollywood writers strike on May 2, 2023 in Los Angeles. Scripted TV series, late-night talk shows, film and streaming productions are being interrupted by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. In 2007 and 2008, a WGA strike shut down Hollywood productions for 100 days, costing the local economy between $2 billion and $3 billion. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) (David McNew, 2023 David McNew)

If you haven’t heard by now, the Writer’s Guild of America is currently on strike, which will cause huge disruptions for many of our favorite TV shows and upcoming movies.

If you’re clueless to what the WGA is, why they are striking and why your favorite TV show may be on hiatus, do not worry! We’ve got all your burning questions answered below!

What is the WGA?

The WGA stands for the Writer’s Guild of America, and they are the union that represents all of writers who work on TV shows and movies. They are protesting against their bosses, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who set their wages.

Why is the WGA protesting?

The WGA released a report in March, outlining that writers have not been compensated correctly since the takeover of streaming networks in the last 10 years or so.

“On TV staffs, more writers are working at minimum regardless of experience, often for fewer weeks, or in mini-rooms, while showrunners are left without a writing staff to complete the season,” the report states. “And while series budgets have soared over the past decade, median writer-producer pay has fallen.”

More writers (and showrunners) are working at the Minimum Basic Agreement than they have in years past, which means that they aren’t being compensated correctly.

As for screenwriters, the WGA points out that due to inflation, screenwriter’s pay has gone down 14% over the last five years.

When did the WGA strike start?

Demands from the WGA weren’t met on their deadline, so the strike officially started on May 1.

What are the demands from the WGA?

It all comes down to better compensation. In their report, the WGA asked for “increased minimum compensation in all areas of media, increased residuals, appropriate TV series-writing compensation from pre- to postproduction, increased contributions to pension and health plans, the strengthening of professional standards and the overall protections for writers and an interesting demand about AI technology.

Has there ever been a WGA strike before?

Yes! There was a strike back in 2007-2008, which led to many TV shows having shortened seasons, or even being canceled all together. Even the Golden Globes that year didn’t happen because there weren’t writers to write the jokes. All they had was someone presenting all of the awards, with no celebrities there to even accept them.

What TV shows will be affected by the WGA strike?

It’s hard to say at this point, but some shows have already gone dark. Most notably is Saturday Night Live, which announced the episode that was supposed to air this Saturday would no longer be happening. Other talks shows have also gone dark, since they operate nearly in real time.

If the strike goes over the summer, we could see some delays in network shows that debut in the fall, so think hits like “Abbott Elementary” that won’t be premiering on time.

The streamers, like Netflix, Hulu and HBO, are in a different situation. These networks already have a back catalog of shows that are ready to premiere, so they may take their time releasing them over the next few months. However, it could delay the release of shows that were getting ready to start production again.

How long will the strike go on for?

It’s hard to say. I’ve read many reports that the strike will be at least two months long, but it’s hard to say how much longer it will go after that. If the strike messes with fall TV shows returning, we might see the strike end by late summer. The last strike in 2007 went on for 100 days, so it will be interesting to see how long this goes on for.

Are movies going to stop production?

If a script has been bought and is finalized, there’s nothing stopping a studio from getting it made, However, movie and TV scripts constantly go through re-writes during filming. So if an actor or director isn’t vibing with what is in the script and they want new dialogue, there isn’t a writer on set to take care of it. It all depends if a studio is willing to take that risk.