In a familiar plot twist, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has gone on strike, leaving Hollywood writers to abandon their keyboards and take to the picket lines. With unanimous support from the WGA board of directors, this strike marks a significant moment as negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) failed to secure a contract, leading writers to face what they describe as an “existential crisis.”

This isn’t the first time Hollywood experiences such turmoil. In 2007 and 2008, writers went on strike for 100 days, causing a major disruption in the entertainment industry. Now, after 15 years, writers behind beloved TV shows like CBS’ “NCIS,” blockbuster Marvel movies, and binge-worthy streaming series like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” find themselves hitting the picket lines once again.

The landscape of Hollywood has transformed significantly since 2008, mainly due to the rise of streaming services. This shift has upended the traditional pay structure in the industry, leaving writers grappling with longer work hours and reduced compensation. Streaming series, with their shorter seasons, often result in fewer episodes per season, impacting how writers are paid. Additionally, residuals and royalties for streaming shows are lower compared to broadcast shows that air reruns on cable or syndication. These discrepancies stem from the industry’s initial approach to streaming, which limited distribution outside of streaming platforms.

At the heart of the strike, writers are demanding fair compensation. They seek standardized compensation for screenwriting, regardless of whether a film is released theatrically or through streaming platforms. The guild also aims to increase studio contributions to pension plans and health funds, recognizing the changing landscape of the entertainment industry.

In a statement addressing the strike, the WGA expressed disappointment in the companies’ actions, stating that their behavior has created a “gig economy” within a union workforce. This immovable stance has led to devaluing the profession of writing and turned it into an entirely freelance endeavor. Such an outcome is unacceptable to the guild’s membership.

Negotiations between the guild and AMPTP have revealed counteroffers and rejections, highlighting the challenges in finding common ground. The studios emphasize their commitment to the long-term health and stability of the industry but face financial pressures and the need to streamline operations.

The impact of the strike will be immediately noticeable on daytime and late-night talk shows, with shows like “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” forced to suspend production. Daytime soap operas will also exhaust their supply of new episodes within a few weeks.

Most broadcast shows, such as “Law & Order” and “Abbott Elementary,” will conclude their seasons as planned, but a prolonged strike could affect their return in the fall. Streaming shows, with their longer lead times, may experience delays in the months ahead. However, it remains uncertain whether actors, also represented by the Screen Actors Guild, would continue filming projects based on completed scripts during the strike.

Movies, with their lengthier production timelines, may face delays, particularly affecting titles set for release in 2024 and 2025.

As the strike persists, studios, streamers, and networks may turn to alternative programming sources, including reality shows and foreign TV. During the 2007-08 strike, the popularity of reality shows surged and continued even after writers returned to work.

The Hollywood writers’ strike sets the stage for a battle over fair compensation and the future of the profession. The industry holds its breath as negotiations continue, uncertain of the lasting impact this conflict will have on the world of entertainment.