The 2007 writer's strike significantly impacted the television industry, particularly in reality TV. During the strike, many scripted television shows were put on hiatus, leaving networks with a shortage of content to broadcast. Reality TV emerged as a viable solution and has since become a mainstay in the television landscape. The absence of union protection and benefits in the reality TV industry has had positive and negative implications for those working within it.
You see reality TV is the one major sectors of the industry that is not covered by the unions - N Writers Guild of America (WGA), NO Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and NO Directors Guild of America (DGA). Reality TV operates in a different realm comprising talented writers, producers, and directors that are not protected. While it offers an accessible entry point for aspiring television professionals and provides the opportunity to shape personal stories into engaging entertainment, it also leaves individuals without the safety nets provided by unions.
However, despite the lack of protection on the crew and creative side, many still felt the strike was good because it opened the door for many who had not seen a path into the television industry. For many aspiring television professionals, the path to success in the scripted realm can be long, arduous, and filled with closed doors. It often feels like an exclusive club with limited entry points. However, reality TV offers a more accessible avenue for newcomers to showcase their talent and creativity. Individuals can shape personal stories into captivating entertainment in this less restrictive environment. Despite the challenges, this freedom has enticed many individuals to work in the reality TV industry.
Many ask why reality TV isn’t protected and why don't reality folks strike. The answer is love and fear. Loving this industry so much that you get in where you fit in. And the fear of losing this small opportunity to continue to work in the industry. I entered the market with my series, Being Bobby Brown, in '04/05, and I am still here definitely for love. While the absence of union coverage and its associated benefits may discourage some individuals from pursuing careers in reality TV, there will always be passionate individuals willing to take risks for the opportunity to make their mark in the industry.
While reality TV has undeniably benefited from the aftermath of the 2007 writer's strike in the past, it is essential to note that the genre has not experienced a significant upsurge in popularity this year. Before the strike, industry colleagues had high hopes that the strike would spark a renewed demand for non-scripted content. However, the expected surge in Reality TV production has yet to materialize. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that reality TV will continue to be a prominent fixture in the television landscape.
There has been and always will be reality TV. It's sometimes called something different - like news, sports, or court programming. As we all watch the reality of the strike play out, we can rest assured that the networks and distributors will find a way to keep the lights on, and reality TV, in all its many shapes and forms, is a safe bet