WGA writers' strikers poke fun at 'Wednesday' star Jenna Ortega
As the Writers Guild of America (or WGA) writers’ strike enters its first full week, actress Jenna Ortega has been a big part of the protests - but not in the way you might expect.
The Wednesday star has been taken to task - via snarky banners toted by striking writers - over previous comments she made about altering the script of the popular Netflix show.
The 20-year-old raised eyebrows in March when she gave an interview to the Armchair Expert podcast, saying she would often change lines in the script, explaining, “I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down on a set in the way that I had to on ‘Wednesday’”.
“Everything that she does, everything that I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about a dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that, I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No'”, added Ortega.
While Ortega’s comments were perhaps a little insensitive, most of the signs referencing her ‘rewriting’ were clearly tongue-in-cheek, with one, held by ‘Just Roll With It’ writer Brandon Cohen, reading: “Without writers, Jenna Ortega will have nothing to punch up!”
Writers on Twitter have been joining in on the jokes too, with BoJack Horseman writer Nick Adams saying, “Jenna Ortega better be back from NY for her afternoon shift on the picket line”, which was quote tweeted by Karen Joseph Adcock, who writes for The Bear; she added, “Rewriting is writing! See you at the line, Jenna!”
Those tweets referred to Ortega’s decision to attend the Met Gala in New York City on Monday 1 May, rather than supporting the picketing writers in Los Angeles, although the strike didn’t officially begin until the next day.
While some fans have jumped to the young actress’ defence, it’s clear that the signs - like many on the picket lines - are mostly light-hearted, with some standouts referencing reality show Love Is Blind and others reimagining quotes from the hugely popular TV hit Succession.
One read, referring to Hollywood CEOs and a stand-out quote from the latest season: “They have ludicrously capacious salaries. What’s even in there? $773m? Greg, it’s monstrous. It’s gargantuan”. Another added: “Pay your writers or we’ll spoil ‘Succession’”, while poked fun at former TV host (and former President of the United States) Donald Trump’s expense, writing: “‘Succession’ without writers is just ‘The Apprentice’ and look how that worked out”.
Despite Ortega’s vocal concern over the Wednesday script, she is expected to be nominated for an Emmy for her titular role - and the show was renewed for a second season in January this year.
However, considering the last major writers’ strike went on for 100 days in 2007, costing the industry nearly $2 billion (approximately €1.82 billion) in revenue loss, it’s likely that Wednesday will be affected, with production on season 2 held up.
The WGA called for its first work stoppage in 15 years last Monday (1 May) after failing to reach an agreement for better pay conditions from studios including Netflix and Walt Disney Co.
Blaming, in part, a huge rise in the popularity of streaming and an unsure future surrounding AI’s role in the industry, the WGA released a statement saying: “The companies' behaviour has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing”.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios, have refuted these claims, explaining that they had offered "generous increases in compensation" to writers - but the two parties were unable to reach a deal.
The WGA represents roughly 11,500 writers across the United States and some celebrities have joined the picketing strikers in solidarity, including Natasha Lyonne, Rob Lowe and Cynthia Nixon.
Woman-of-the-moment Jennifer Coolidge showed her support too. The White Lotus star dedicated her MTV Comedic Genius award to the protesters, saying in a pre-recorded acceptance speech: “Almost all great comedy starts with great writers… I stand here before you tonight side by side with my sisters and brothers from the WGA that are fighting right now. Fighting for the rights of artists everywhere”.
The strikes had a knock-on effect on Sunday’s MTV Movie and TV Award ceremony, which wasn’t broadcast live as a result, with sketches and acceptance speeches pre-taped for audiences.
Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for more updates on the ongoing writers' strike.