It's a Wrap! Hollywood Writers to Vote on Ending Strike Today

The Hollywood writers' strike is expected to end today.  Reports throughout the media indicate the Writers Guild of America will vote to go back to work, ending a three-month walkout that put a huge dent in the Hollywood economy.

So much for the culture's reprieve from the nightly assault on traditional values delivered by fresh-off-the-keyboard television shows.

Half hour comedies will most likely be the first shows back with original episodes.  That means Charlie Sheen and company will be back with sexual antics in Two and a Half Men on CBS before the ladies of Wisteria Lane on ABC's Desperate Housewives.  Yippee.

Lisa de Moraes, who writes The Washington Post's TV Column, reported that many shows will not return with fresh episodes this spring.  Some of them, like ABC's Cavemen and CBS's Viva Laughlin were dead on arrival, ratings-wise, in the fall.  Others, like Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies, both on ABC, will relaunch in the fall. 

In the short term the network breathing the biggest sigh of relief is ABC, which is due to broadcast the Oscars on February 24th.  The Oscar broadcast is usually the most-watched television show after the Super Bowl. With the writers' strike settled the red carpet will be rolled out and the Hollywood elite will get a chance to pat themselves on the back and celebrate the movies while ABC rakes in the cash through commercial advertising.

The real question is what will viewers do?  The networks have filled their broadcast hours with reality programming and reruns.  Will viewers return to their favorite shows or have they discovered that there is life away from the tube and they no longer need their nightly dose of voyeuristic violence and sex?  Not even the networks know the answer to that question.

And how about the writers and the producers?  Did their time off give them an opportunity to reassess the messages they want to put into their shows?

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.