Which shows will be affected by the WGA writers’ strike?


TV production may be affected if the Writers Guild of America goes on strike on May 2. Here are the shows to worry about.

The Writers Guild of America has been in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers over a new three-year contract and it’s not going well. On April 24, writers will vote to give the guild the authority to call for a strike should the WGA and the AMPTP not agree to a new deal by May 1. If a writers’ strike happens, like it did in 2007, then any number of TV shows will be affected. If the strike lasts through the end of May, the impact gets significantly greater.

Fans of a few highly anticipated shows have nothing to worry about: Game of Thrones is good to go, as is Orange is the New Black and Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. Reality shows, unscripted but highly produced, will also continue as scheduled during a writers’ strike.

Late-night shows

Daily and weekly shows will “go dark” almost immediately if a strike comes to pass. With scripts that are, by definition, written on short notice, there’s not much the shows can do to prepare either. Expect a hiatus from:

  • Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

May production shows

Shows that will film in May to debut in the early autumn will be affected a strike. This could result in delays for:

  • The Walking Dead
  • American Horror Story
  • Modern Family
  • Empire
  • Jessica Jones
  • Luke Cage
  • Star Trek Discovery
  • Halt and Catch Fire

Autumn/winter season shows

If the strike lasts into June – the 2007 writers’ strike lasted 100 days, from November until February – it will begin to affect shows that air in the fall and winter. Most shows go back into production in July, but writing begins weeks earlier. At this stage, you’re looking at delays or shorter seasons for most of your favorite shows.

Why will there be strike?

As dire as this all seems for fans of TV, it’s worth remembering a few key things. For one, there is a lot of TV already out there, so there’s plenty for you to catch up on while the WGA and the AMPTP work things out. Also, it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, so the timing could be worse. More importantly, the reasons the writers are striking are very valid concerns.

Peak TV, what you know and love, has resulted in a surge in scripted shows. They’re being produced in higher quantities, but shorter orders than ever before. Writers are usually paid on a per-episode basis so a drop from 24 episodes to eight or 10 episodes is significant. Meaning that while peak TV has resulted in higher employment, writers are experiencing significantly lower earnings. Average wages dropped 21 percent from 2010 to 2015.

So, the WGA is asking for increased earnings and greater job security. They are also asking for better healthcare plans and pension benefits. If the AMPTP obliges, then it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming.