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Saying the show must go on during the Hollywood strikes is not a form of solidarity

Celebs like Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher have offered apologies and explanations showing what is at stake in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher with Special Guest Governor Gray Davis Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic

The show must go on, but it's not a good slogan regarding the ongoing historic dual WGA and SAG-AFRA strikes. While the lights continue to be off in many studio lots, the non-WGA shows Live with Kelly and Mark and Sherri have returned to filming. But, the considerable backlash was geared toward Drew Barrymore and Bill Maher. Barrymore and Maher had put out respective statements and stated they would bring back their respective shows without using WGA writers. There was a pseudo apology (that also didn’t go over well and later deleted), and ultimately, Barrymore and Maher agreed to push back the resumption of their shows until the strike was over.

With The View, a grey area exists due to the Network Television Code allowing such shows to go on without WGA writers. However, as that continues, the question remains of what solidarity constitutes within a four-month strike period where many writers and actors are active on the picket lines and a paycheck-to-paycheck reality awaits them. As the strikes continue because of the AMPTP/studios' stone-cold hesitancy to meet the demands set forth by both unions, those entities are in cost-cutting mode. Who's to say that they won’t look to these shows as next on the chopping block or even get a hint that a non-writing show could work? Could you imagine a New Rules segment without well-skilled writers? (you don’t want to). Many shows have either been canceled or stripped away wholly without a trace.

WGA Members Picket Outside The Drew Barrymore Show Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

But in the long, drawn-out fight ahead (hopefully not), that specter of possibility can’t be the reason why specific creators who are more well-off than the mass populous decide to forge ahead taking out loans or seeking second jobs because higher-ups who make millions upon millions won’t give them the 1 or 2% raise they are seeking with protections to ensure they can do their jobs well. It’s a fight for quality assurance that will not make the creators' lives better ahead of inflationary measures; it benefits us, the viewers when the same people who forge the things that entertain us have all the tools to make it so comfortable.

I can’t help that the blanketed use of the word content contributes to the “show goes on” mentality. Like in journalism, studio heads want as much “substantial” IP, television shows, and movies as possible to serve it in the buffet-style tables of streaming and the box office to consumers. But where does that leave those who combine the ingredients and toll over the taste and the placement of the dinner dishes we get? The viewer gains little as far as staying power and incentive to stick with things, and the creators are pushed into unattainable conditions to put empty calories on the platter for the sake of eyes.

Any push to resume things in a back-to-standard setting would only encourage that type of working environment. You have to give Barrymore grace to reverse her judgment and, in a way, the same to Maher. Although, he had some other disparaging things to say about writer pay – rich from somebody to make millions of dollars. The show can’t go on because if it does, it gives the untrue impression that things can continue without the people who make the shows what they are.