On Monday 24th April, members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted to authorise strike action, which could commence as early as 1st May if negotiations between the union and the studios do not reach an agreement by that date.
If the strike goes ahead, it will halt the production of many US television shows ahead of the summer season.
Here’s what you need to know.
Why are the writers planning to strike?
Despite the current television boom, or ‘peak TV’ (there are more scripted shows on television in the US than ever before), writers are not reaping the benefits, and their wage increases in recent years have paled in comparison to those on the business end of things.
On top of this, decreased episode orders (writers get paid per episode) and a faltering health insurance plan have caused dissatisfaction.
Ok, but how will this affect my favourite shows?
Thankfully, most of the summer’s biggest releases, from Netflix’s House of Cards to Sky Atlantic’s Game of Thrones, have already wrapped production, and should be broadcast as scheduled, so there is no need to smash the television in a fit of rage just yet.
But, the same may not be said for the future of some of our other favourites. Any shows in production when the strike begins will have to wrap up for the duration of the strike, meaning some seasons may be ended early, or delayed indefinitely.
What shows will be affected?
Newsweek reports that late night television will feel an immediate effect, and will be forced into a re-run loop, as these shows are produced to air on a daily basis in order to keep up with the news cycle. While this means Donald Trump may get a respite from a nightly lampooning, we will be deprived of the insight of the likes of Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon from 1st May.
Scripted shows that are likely to suffer include The Walking Dead, Modern Family, Empire and American Horror Story, reports Metro, while Jessica Jones and the upcoming Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: Discovery, are scheduled to begin filming next month and may have to be delayed.
Oh no. How long is this likely last?
Don’t hold your breath. The last writers strike, in 2007, lasted for 100 days.
What is the likely long-term effect?
The previous strike meant that many series, including 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory and Breaking Bad, had to significantly reduce their running order for the season. Other, smaller shows were cancelled entirely.
Let’s hope the writers and studios reach an agreement soon. But if not, we can be thankful that, in contrast to 2007, there’s a wealth of television available at our fingertips.