Reruns to end, content not expected to improve
On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached an agreement with Truth Studios, best known as the producers of Reality, the smash hit that has been airing for some 14-billion years. The agreement brought an end to an almost four-year strike that began in March of 2020 when writers sought more freedom from the studio concerning what sorts of storylines they could write.
L. Zebub, president of the Guild, stated their goals for the strike: “Ultimately, our writers felt more and more constrained by the studio’s demands, chief among them that Reality have morals. For six thousand years, we’ve been forced to write plots where good is good and bad is bad. Can’t the studio see the lazy writing on the wall? Rick and Morty, Game of Thrones, and even the newest Disney movies are all exploring worlds where there is no moral landscape. Why can’t we? It’s objectively evil to insist on moral Reality!”
Mx. Zebub also argued that the requirement of internal consistency was making the writers do more drudgery: “We have to keep adding digits on to the end of pi to make sure none of the mathematician characters reach the end, and you wouldn’t believe the flak we get when we accidentally write a different number of socks coming out of the dryer than went in. Reality is standing in the way of our imagination!”
The beginning of the strike led to a two-week interruption in programming as the studio worked to secure content. While the cancellation of all events for two weeks was explained in-universe as a pandemic, the studio was desperately scrambling to line up episodes that could be shot without much plot. Later on, the studio re-ran much of their own content and found other ways to fill the content gap.
For example, in the spin-off series Politics, the studio reused their impeachment episodes and made several new stories from multiple different drafts of a previously scrapped indictment plotline. Politics found itself in a trickier position than some of Truth’s other shows since contract negotiations have kept them in a hiring/firing freeze for the last thirty years even as some of their cast show evident mental decline. Ramming D. Eisberg, the Politics showrunner, chose to explore AI content to fill the gap: “We decided to experiment by feeding both Veep and Barney and Friends to a large language model called Knowledge Augmentation and Machine-Assisted Language Algorithm. That system now writes the dialogue for our Vice President character.”
Even Truth’s academic soap opera Days of Our Lady had to make significant changes when the writers went on strike. “Background actors are really just three or four characters duplicated digitally,” said Executive Producer Siobhan Shamrock. “The business college students in particular have one of just two different stock personalities.” Ms. Shamrock was extremely relieved to hear that the strike was ending: “We have two campus newspapers, and we were going to have to kill off the better one with a lawsuit because our scabs couldn’t write content good enough for it. It would have been such a shame too—our most attractive characters work there. Now they can continue to provide the campus with top-notch journalism and even better humor!”
Negotiations finally began again after two years of deadlock when Truth realized that it was on the verge of having to rerun its 2020 election episodes, although hopefully that can now be averted. Some commentators have speculated that the writers finally came to the table out of fear that they would be replaced by journalists, who have begun to delve into writing exclusively fiction.
In the new agreement, Truth will hire a dedicated staff for ensuring internal consistency. Writers, on the other hand, agreed to cut down on the number of plots that they steal from The Simpsons, as many viewers had commented that it seemed to be happening rather a lot.
Will Grannis is a character in Days of Our Lady written by a scab who clearly was drunk at the time. He hopes to not get transferred to a different show and would love to get three more seasons by coming back for law school. If you have recommendations for the writers for improving Will’s character arc, reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Matthew Rice
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