Television Man | Aidan Morgan
“We shall find that the God of Media is among us, when 10 prime-time dramas shall pull greater numbers than a thousand sitcoms; when He shall greenlight a pilot of such glory that critics shall say ‘may He make it like that of HBO’. For we must consider that we shall be as an OLED on a hill”. —Some random naked dude hallucinating from dehydration in 536 BCE
As of May 2, The Writers Guild of America (that’s WGA to you) are on strike. After six weeks of negotiations, the union failed to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (that’s Netflix, Sony, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discover-Warner, NBC Universal and Paramount to you).
At the heart of the negotiations were conflicts around establishing residuals for streaming, preserving writers’ rooms, regulations on generative AI technologies, and raises in pay that would constitute a living wage for movie and television writers so they don’t end up living in poverty, even as their work ends up splashed across a million screens.
Did the Alliance see it their way? Lol. They’re rubbing their hands together right now, envisioning a hellscape future where writers revise AI garbage for half the pay. A desperate creative underclass is exactly what they want. The WGA won’t give it to them.
In the wake of the strike, some high-profile productions have shut down until the labour action is resolved. The Duffer Brothers have halted production on the final season of Stranger Things. Marvel Studio’s Blade is delayed once more. On the other hand, the second seasons of House of the Dragon, The Rings of Power and Andor are still trucking along.
I just found out that CBS has ordered a Matlock reboot. With Kathy Bates! Network television feels like an alien planet these days, diligently going over ancient Earth broadcasts and fashioning their entire society after old episodes of Diff’rent Strokes and Home Improvement. One day they’ll land on the White House lawn and take over the planet with folksy homilies and non-diegetic laughter.
Which reminds me: NCIS: Los Angeles wraps up its 14-year run later this month. Be sure to tune in for all the investigations of things. Maybe LL Cool J will look into the camera and say, “Well these last 14 years have been a hell of a thing, haven’t they?”
Over in prestige TV land, Succession and Barry (HBO/Crave) have reached their last few episodes. If you’re not watching at least one of these programs, I don’t know what to say. Hold on, I know exactly what to say: go ahead and watch Succession if you like, but not watching Barry may actually be a crime. Over its four-season run, Bill Hader and Alec Berg have gradually pushed the show out of its nest of edgy comedy into an infinite plummet into the void of nihilism. But in a funny way.
On Apple TV, Silo has shown us what happens when a hot science fiction property meets bankable stars and immaculate production design. What happens is a borderline unwatchable show that forces grown adults to make incomprehensible decisions as they go around explaining the rules of their society to each other. David Oyelowo, Rashida Jones, Rebecca Ferguson — you deserve better than this. Let’s hope the writers can get back to work soon. ■