We’re getting ever closer now to a potential WGA strike; if it happens, what could this mean to The Amazing Race and other shows?
Think back for a minute all the way to the fall of 2007. This was the last time that a writers’ strike was initiated, and it left networks scrambling to try to find more programming in order to fill the void. This, in turn, led to a variety of unscripted fare coming on the air as a way to simply fill in the schedule. Networks don’t like repeats in the long-term, and reality shows service almost as caulking for all of the various cracks.
We’ll be the first to admit personally that the previous writers’ strike was fundamentally life-changing. Without it, we may not have been cast on a CW show in Beauty and the Geek that rush-produced a fifth season because of the strike. In turn, we got into writing about television because of taking part in that show. Therefore, we have a somewhat strange relationship with the notion of a writers’ strike, though we want to be clear in saying that writers remain undervalued and should receive far greater compensation. We especially mean this for writers who work on cable series with long production cycles but fewer episodes than broadcast models.
Anyhow, we do think that it’s feasible that The CW could look to revive a show like Beauty and the Geek in this climate given that it and Whose Line is it Anyway? are their only big unscripted properties now that America’s Next Top Model is off to VH1. We haven’t heard anything there, but if the strike persists it will be interesting to see precisely what they want to do.
As for shows that are already a part of networks’ plans, a looming WGA strike does significantly increase the odds of an Amazing Race 30 happening. The show is casting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than that producers want to pitch a good cast to CBS down the road. We do also think that this boosts the odds of a Hunted season 2, which inexplicably hasn’t been ordered yet. While the ratings weren’t through the roof, they weren’t terrible and the show is a perfect fill-in even if there is no strike going on.
As for Big Brother, this raises another interesting question: Would CBS opt to air a Big Brother OTT 2 on their flagship network in the fall? If the strike persists, we could see them opting for at least weekly episodes there to fill space. The last time there was a strike, Big Brother 9 aired during the winter / spring. We think using OTT again would be preferable to having two flagship seasons in a year, even if there were parts of the first OTT that we found toxic and fairly depressing.
As for some other network shows, we don’t see this impacting Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, or The Bachelor all that much. Maybe this convinces a network to work hard to bring an American Idol revival to life, or maybe ABC comes up with some other crazy Bachelor spin-off for the fall. ABC in general may go big with a wide array of game-show revivals like they already have with Match Game and the upcoming The Gong Show. Following the last writers’ strike ABC revived The Mole, and while we’d love to see it or another under-the-radar show like The Quest or Whodunnit back, we don’t foresee that happening even with more programming needs.
What reality shows could you see networks looking at in the event of a WGA strike? Share in the comments!