Hollywood writers just authorized their union leadership to potentially call a strike. But if negotiations with studios fail, a strike wouldn’t hurt every show equally. Some hit titles would march right into the walkout buzzsaw due to the timing (the current contract expires May 1). Here are popular titles that we’re hearing could be among the first impacted…
The Walking Dead (AMC)
The picket lines could stake the zombie hit, which starts season 8 production on May 1 — the same day the Writers Guild of America’s current contract expires. The series is an October tradition, and if pushed off-cycle it would be a rather huge disruption for the show (which has seen ratings slip recently but remains massively popular). Spin-off Fear the Walking Dead re-started shooting in January for a June 4 return, and could squeak through if all the scripts are written and production doesn’t shut down.
American Horror Story (FX)
Like The Walking Dead, this is popular horror series always returns around Halloween. Yet the upcoming 2016 presidential election-themed season 7 is currently being written (and the show’s scripts tend to be polished up until shooting) so the cycle would likely get pushed even deeper into Trump’s reign if there’s a protracted walkout. Further down the road, producer Ryan Murphy’s next American Crime Story sagas (Katrina, Versace) and second Feud miniseries are also now being written and could get impacted.
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
Not yet a hit, but there’s a lot of anticipation for this one. But the new Trek TV series was first delayed from a planned February launch and then from its announced May premiere as well. Though technically you cannot delay a show that doesn’t currently have a premiere date, CBS chief Les Moonves has told investors to expect the sci-fi drama to finally land in late summer or early fall. But with production midway through its 13 episodes and scripts unfinished, a strike could warp CBS’ plans once again.
The Mindy Project (Hulu)
The final season of the comedy series goes into production next month for a September premiere, but will likely have to hit pause if there’s a strike. Also potentially at risk: Hulu’s dystopian thriller The Handmaids Tale has completed shooting.
The Inhumans (ABC)
Even Marvel’s royal family isn’t immune. Unlike most fall shows, The Inhumans has already locked a premiere date, and it’s a relatively early — Sept. 1 in IMAX theaters, followed by a debut on ABC on Sept 26. Despite a short eight-episode limited series order, the ambitious big screen/small screen roll out for ABC’s latest superhero title could potentially have a setback as production only recently got underway.
Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Netflix is not signatory to the WGA, yet follows in step with the major studios on its rules and regulations. Jessica Jones season 2 begins filming in May. Luke Cage season 2 is likewise set to get underway in June, so both could get hit. Superhero team-up miniseries The Defenders has thankfully already wrapped.
Okay so Zoo isn’t really a big hit, but it’s one of broadcast’s few high-profile scripted summer shows. Production continues through for a planned premiere June 29 and so it could be impacted if there’s a strike.
Late-Night Talk Shows
Imagine late-night talk shows as the cannon fodder front-line soldiers in the strike war — they’re expected to immediately drop to repeats despite mostly consisting of celebrities interviews. Those Trump jokes in the monologues don’t write themselves, you know. (Okay, so they kind of do).
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Speaking of Trump, the president would get a break from Alec Baldwin’s mocking earlier than expected and SNL would likely cancel its final three episodes (which have Chris Pine, Melissa McCarthy, and Dwayne Johnson lined up as hosts). The acclaimed 42nd season would conclude with the recent Jimmy Fallon-hosted episode as the finale.
Pretty Much Every Scripted Show on Television
If there is a strike the most important question for fans is: How long will it last? The great writers’ strike of ’07-08 lasted three-and-a-half months. That might not sound very long, but in the current Peak TV era there are more than 400 dramas and comedies airing per year. So even if the strike “only” lasts the same amount of time, that’s potentially a lot of shows seeing their seasons cut short, delayed or perhaps just written more hastily than they otherwise would have been. (Having your first season cut short by a writers’ strike isn’t necessarily harmful, however — just ask Breaking Bad).
Shows You Don’t Have to Worry About Anytime Soon
Here are some popular summer and early fall dramas that we’re told have either completed production for their upcoming season, or are far enough along so they’re not expected to be impacted: HBO’s Game of Thrones (July 16), Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival (May 21), Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (June 9), BBC BBC America’s final season of Orphan Black (June 10), Starz’ American Gods (April 30), Starz’ Outlander (September), AMC’s Preacher (June 25), and — whew! — Netflix’s Stranger Things (Oct. 31).
Note: Story updated with Handmaid’s Tale status.