TV Bites With
If A Writer Strikes and No One
Cares, Does it Make a Sound?
by Neena Louise
Much has been said about the possibility of an impending writers' strike and how
networks are "stockpiling" scripts for next season and how new
productions will be halted...so much fear-mongering. All I have to say is:
I fail to see how a writers' strike will have an impact on what's on TV these
days. This season was the shortest I've ever witnessed, and so rife with
repeats, pre-emptions and blasť episodes, it was hardly worth tuning into in
the first place. So, what, then, there'll be even fewer new episodes? SO
WHAT?! There'll be even more repeats. SO WHAT?!
Don't get me wrong: I have a great deal of respect for scriptwriters (the
good ones, anyway) and I'm sure they have valid reasons for wanting to strike,
though I don't know what they are (and don't much care). However, they are at
the mercy of how the Suits have driven network television further and further
into the ground, and viewer apathy has descended into the writers' rooms. The
only ones who seem to care about a writers' strike are Hollywood insiders (they
are the ones whose paychecks are being threatened).
The only clear ratings coups this season have been in reality television: Survivor,
The Mole, Boot Camp, etc. Though I know writers are needed for
this genre as well, they'd still be able to stay in production without writers
(unless the crew refused to cross picket lines), so striking would be rather
I have a great deal of pity for today's scriptwriters. There's so much pressure
to be young and fresh, stay politically correct and yet still create a hit - and
probably for what amounts to a pittance. But striking isn't the answer, because
the television-viewing public doesn't care. There hasn't been enough good
television this season to warrant caring. It's not the writers' fault,
but that's the way it is. So how do the writers get what they want without
striking? Good question. They probably can't, but I wouldn't count on public
support in negotiations. Television has been in a long, slow decline for years
and unless the Powers That Be finally GET A CLUE and start paying attention to
what viewers want, viewership will continue to decline, and even fewer will care
whether or not there are new episodes.
It's a system that's not fair to writers, because today's television is no
longer a writer's medium. It's also a system that's not fair to viewers because
- unlike the unenlightened television executives' assumptions - most of us would
actually prefer a wider range of well-written and intelligent alternatives to
such scintillating fare as Temptation Island, Chains of Love and Who
Wants to be a Millionaire? (and don't even get me started on The Weakest
Link). In fact, looking at television in general - and this last season in
particular - it makes you wonder just who today's television is designed for.
would love to know what you think, sound off on the
boards and let us know what you think!