As summer 2023 draws to a close, people around the country are falling back into their favorite fall habits. Both college football and the NFL are back in full swing, the kids are back to school, and flannels and pumpkin spice are just around the corner. One thing that is not returning as usual, though, is the fall TV schedule.
In a typical year, we’d be inundated with new TV ads by now. There would be new seasons of Abbott Elementary and Saturday Night Live with a whole slate of new programming and more. Instead, this fall is going to consist of mostly unscripted programming. Reality TV and sports programming are carrying more of the load because the WGA and SAG-AFTRA remain on strike.
Since May, the Writers Guild has been striking for better residual pay, protection against AI competitors, and more… but it’s been easy for audiences not to notice much of a difference in their content consumption.
Streamers have been able to keep putting out new shows like Disney+’s Star Wars show Ahsoka or Netflix’s Purdue Pharma drama Painkiller, and with big ticket movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer drawing in huge crowds, the movie and TV pipeline has managed to at least feel relatively healthy. But now that all changes because the fall TV season is usually the crown jewel of networks and streamers alike, and this year, the pickings are very slim.
While the mostly canceled fall TV schedule may be general audience’s first real taste of the turmoil happening in the production world, the strikes have been taking a huge economic toll on workers across the industry. Deadline reported that, as of September 5, the Entertainment Community Fund has distributed more than $6 million in financial assistance since May to almost 3,000 film and TV workers impacted by the strikes.
At this point, there aren’t many hopeful signs that the strike is close to ending, and the entire future of the movies and TV remains in limbo. For audiences, I guess that means to buckle in for a lot of reality TV or use this time to catch up on old favorites.
I’m Evan Rook.