1. The Writers and Actors strikes
Of course, the biggest story of the year has to be the two major labor strikes that impacted almost every corner of Hollywood this year. The Writer's Guild went on strike on May 2, striking for 148 days before reaching a new deal.
At the same time, The Actors Guild was on strike for 118 days starting on July 14, which means that for 6 months either one or both of the unions was on strike. While there were several different issues that had to be sorted out, many of them centered around trying to ensure that both acting and writing could continue to be sustainable careers, especially with the rising concerns of how AI could affect things in the future.
The strike resulted in several shows getting delayed, with most of this year's television broadcast season not even starting until January. While it was a very long process, in both cases a deal was finally reached, and most productions have resumed work.
2. Shows are removed from streaming services
As the streaming era continues, we reached a disappointing new development in 2023. Earlier this year, HBO Max unexpectedly removed several of their titles, including shows that were branded as HBO Max originals, with shows that were expected to always be on the service removed as well.
The removal of these shows caused an outcry, as in many cases the removal meant that those shows were unavailable to watch anywhere, causing a rise in discussions about the importance of physical media and owning the movies and shows that you want. Unfortunately, it turned out that the practice of removing original shows from streaming services wasn't just a one-time thing.
Before the end of the year, both Disney+ and Paramount+ had removed some of their original programming, some of which had only been available for a few months before getting removed. In some cases those shows were released on DVD, meaning they can technically still be viewed.
But in other cases, there is currently no legal way to actually watch the show.
3. HBO Max becomes Max
As each studio rushed to put together its own streaming service, one of the questions that seemed to get a lot of attention was what each of these new streaming services would be called. A lot of studios opted for the simple "plus" strategy of adding a plus sign to the studio's name, such as Disney+ or Paramount+.
But there were other interesting examples such as NBC's streaming service named Peacock after the company's mascot, and WB's service named HBO Max, hoping to capitalize on the company's HBO brand. This name ended up causing a surprising amount of confusion.
Part of the reason was that there were already two HBO streaming services, HBO Go (online on-demand service of HBO shows for people who were already subscribed to HBO) and HBO Now (the same thing as HBO Go, but without a subscription to HBO required). Now HBO Max was being added into the mix, with everything HBO Now had, plus a whole lot more.
Some people were confused about seeing shows that didn't fall in line with the HBO style and branding. This year, it was decided to drop the HBO part of the title and rebrand the service as Max.
The change marked a shift in focus for the service. With Max combining the content of HBO Max, along with the shows from Discovery's streaming service, the current iteration of the service has a lot more content than it previously had.
But it certainly is something that doesn't feel like it fits the HBO name today.
4. The End of the Arrowverse
In October of 2012, a TV show based on the DC character The Green Arrow premiered on The CW. In the second season of the show, the Flash would appear as a guest star, and later get a spinoff.
Over the next several years the franchise continued to expand, adding new shows, and building a bigger universe. At its peak the collection of shows, dubbed the Arrowverse, had 6 different shows airing simultaneously, creating one of the biggest interconnected stories in television.
The shows would regularly feature characters crossing over into other shows and eventually culminated in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a massive 5-episode event that featured all the shows, as well as cameos from several other DC properties. However, in recent years the Arrowverse has begun to wind down.
Six different shows airing simultaneously became 5, then four. Some were able to conclude, while others were canceled.
The series that kicked the whole thing off, Arrow, ended back in 2020, indicating that the franchise was coming to an end. Then, the newest addition to the universe, Superman & Lois announced that while those characters would be played by the same actors who played those characters in the Arrowverse, the show should not be considered part of the same franchise.
This year the final episode of the show The Flash aired in May, marking the final episode of a series set in the Arrowverse. For over a decade, this collection of shows told an overarching collaborative story and dominated the CW, becoming one of the primary kinds of shows that the channel offered.
It marks the end of an era for the channel, as well as superhero stories being told on television.
5. Jury Duty
One of the most surprising successes in television this year came from a show called Jury Duty. The concept of the series was that it would be a documentary following the 12 members of a jury, as they went through a typical court case.
The twist on the pitch was that everything about the show, from the judge to the court, to the trial itself, was all fake except for a single juror. Ronald (juror #6) was completely unaware that everything was a setup, including the other 11 jurors who were all played by actors.
The series was a hit when it was released in April of this year and has gone on to receive critical acclaim including multiple Emmy nominations. What makes the success of the show even more surprising is that it aired on Freevee; a free, ad-supported streaming service with much less name recognition than the big streaming services.
The success of the series has not only inspired potential shows with similar setups (A revival of The Joe Schmo Show was announced a month after Jury Duty's success), but it also showed that some of the smaller streaming services were just as capable of capturing our attention as Netflix, Max, and Disney, if they have the right show.
What do you remember most about this year in the world of television? Share your answers in the comments below, we'd love to read them!