Severance severed: Writers strike starts to affect Apple TV+ production


From left, Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, John Turturro and Britt Lower star in “Severance.”
"Severance" season 2 is on hold because of the writers strike.
Photo: Apple TV+

The Writers Guild of America is on strike, causing problems both immediate and long-term for TV and movie production. And Apple TV+ certainly is not immune.

Production on two Apple series already stopped because of picketing, including the bugle popular Severance. And that raises questions about other series and movies.

Hollywood writers strike has a growing impact

In 2007, the last time WGA went on strike to force major changes to its contracts, no one saw the coming juggernaut of Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Video, etc. The writers settled for their work for streaming services to at least be covered by the union’s Minimum Basic Agreement. As the name indicates, this is the minimum wage paid to unionized screenwriters.

Years later, streaming services are hugely important, and the writers of the shows argue they are underpaid for their work. They want approximately the same deal for streaming that they have for traditional TV.

Their strike just began last week, but it’s already causing problems. And that includes Apple TV+. On Monday, the Writers Guild picketed the set for Severance season 2 and the teamsters refused to cross the picket line, according to Deadline. Production has been therefore been halted.

Maya Rudolph refused to continue work on Loot.
Maya Rudolph reportedly refused to continue work on the Apple TV+ series Loot after WGA picketers showed up on set.
Photo: Apple TV+

And production of season two of Loot also stopped because picketers showed up at the set. The star, Maya Rudolph, “retreated to her trailer, unwilling to return to work,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Neither show is likely to start filming again for months, as the WGA strike has just begun. The 2007 writers strike lasted about four months, and that’s a typical length for previous ones. So don’t expect a resolution until roughly September.

More Apple TV+ disruptions in the offing?

Apple has a large collection of series and films in every possible stage of production. And, not surprisingly, it has kept quiet about how the writers strike will affect these. But let’s use some examples to see the possibilities.

Consider For All Mankind season four. It is in post-production, and so will likely debut on Apple TV+ in autumn 2023 as originally scheduled. The same goes for The Morning Show season three.

But picketers could potentially stop the filming of any series in production right now. That’s what happened to Severance and Loot.

Obviously, writing on any series or film has stopped. But that’s among the earliest creative phases, so the effects of the work stoppage won’t show up for months. This is the phase Shrinking season two is likely in — we probably should not expect it to debut in winter 2024, a year after the season one premiere.

But some productions might evade the WGA strike altogether. As one example, Trying is a British production, so season four is unlikely to see any effects.

Note: This article was first published early on May 8, then updated later in the day after Severance production stopped.

D. Griffin Jones contributed to this article.


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