2023 is quickly becoming the year for questionable book-to-screen adaptations. Now, we all know how difficult it can be to transfer words off a page onto our TV screens in a way that both does the book justice and appeals to a wide audience. Nevertheless, it feels as though at the moment, Hollywood studios are going through a serious flop period—the WGA writers’ strike can’t help either.
On Monday 15 May, pictures emerged of Blake Lively on the set of It Ends With Us, a film adaptation of the gen Z favourite and #BookTok hit book of the same name. It Ends With Us follows Lily Bloom, a young woman with a tumultuous past. It touches upon themes of abuse, love triangles, heartbreak, and emotional upheaval, and has been described by author Colleen Hoover as “the hardest book [I’ve] ever written.”
Hoover’s novel blew up online after publication, with netizens devouring the story and flooding TikTok and Twitter with theories, opinions, and sequel ideas. The It Ends With Us hashtag on TikTok currently boasts an impressive 21.3 million views, so it’s safe to say that the book definitely made an impact.
With such adoration comes serious expectations, and despite most of the universe being obsessed with Gossip Girl alumni Blake Lively (who will play the lead character of redheaded florist Bloom), fans definitely seemed less than impressed with the behind the scenes sneak peeks. The most intense book-fanatic criticism seemed to stem from the fact that “their” Bloom simply would not dress the way the on-set designer was clearly dressing Lively.
With such an engaged and loyal fanbase, it was always going to be an impossible task to please everyone. That being said, I do kind of get where people are coming from. The Lily Bloom we all first fell in love with was a young and spirited woman who made an immediate impression, and it’s safe to say that the crimped red hair and awfully fitted beige dress Lively has been seen in, is not giving.
How the costume designer managed to find an item of clothing that makes the actress look that bad, I don’t know, but Lively, we’re sorry sweetie, you don’t deserve that.
Replacement casting suggestions included Stranger Things star Sadie Sink and Riverdale actress Madelaine Petsch—two slightly younger natural red-heads who readers presumably felt would fit the aesthetic of the role better. And while we of course do not support ageism in any way shape or form, it does feel slightly odd that the studio wouldn’t pick a slightly younger actress to portray a 23-year-old?
We’ve seen this kind of similar reaction when the Daisy Jones & The Six miniseries dropped back in March. While a lot of the acting performances were praised, fans of the Taylor Jenkins Reid novel felt as though the looks didn’t quite do the 70s music scene justice and at times felt forced and slightly phoney. Lots of netizens referenced how the 2000 cult classic Almost Famous was far more successful at authentically capturing the decade, in both style and vibez.
One incredibly insightful user comment queried whether or not the Daisy Jones & The Six cast felt slightly off because of the fact that they all constantly looked like they had iPhone 14s sticking out of their pockets. Maybe being too technologically aware ruins actors’ abilities to recreate these kinds of time periods?
It Ends With Us, the film, is not due to hit our screens till late 2024, at the earliest, so hopefully the Hollywood internet spies will take on board all of the current criticism, and seriously shake up some of the styling choices, or… they’ll just completely ignore us which is also an entirely possible outcome.
On Monday 1 May, while half of Hollywood mingled, posed, and purred at the 2023 Met Gala, the Writers Guild of America announced that all members would be ceasing work on Tuesday afternoon after negotiations between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down. This action marks the first WGA strike since 2007.
According to The Guardian, the strike came about due to issues deriving from the monumental growth, and continued domination of streaming within the Film and Television industry. The topic is quite complex so we’ve broken it down into three primary reasons as to why writers are officially putting their collective feet down.
First off, the guild has stated that, despite budgets for series increasing, writers’ share of that money has actually shrunk. In fact, the WGA has argued that writers who work on streaming shows are being penalised because success isn’t factored into the residuals a writer can earn (residuals refers to when a writer is financially compensated for the reuse of their work). While broadcast television uses a “reward-for-success” model which means if a show is a hit, writers can earn more in residuals, streaming doesn’t.
Secondly, most of the big streaming services, we’re talking Netflix, Amazon Prime etc, use much smaller staff—known in the industry as ‘mini rooms’. This cull in labour has resulted in a massive drop in sustained income writing jobs available.
And, finally, writers within the guild are also striking in part to try and push for regulation of AI-use in script-writing. It’s no secret that a lot of us have officially begun to consider artificial intelligence a direct threat to employment—c’mon don’t lie, I know I have. If two random software engineers can catfish a handful of Redditors with an AI-generated female model, who’s to say ChatGPT couldn’t successfully write season two of Netflix hit Beef.
Quite a few shows are going to be impacted by the WGA strike, so let’s run through the ones we actually care about (sorry, not sorry, Jimmy Kimmel).
First off, according to Variety, the writers for the Emmy winning mockumentary Abbott Elementary were due to reconvene for the third season on 2 May, this of course didn’t end up happening. The comedy series has become a firm favourite among both industry professionals and the general public.
Next up is new kid on the block Yellowjackets. The thriller series exploded onto Showtime in 2021 and has since captivated audiences with its absorbing mystery and stellar cast. Following the announcement of the strike, co-creator of the show Ashley Lyle shared on Twitter: “Well, we had exactly one day in the #YellowJackets S3 writers’ room. It was amazing, and creatively invigorating, and so much fun, and I’m very excited to get back to it as soon as the #WGA gets a fair deal.”
Everyone’s favourite 80s/ sci-fi/ rom-com/ thriller/ overall rush of a show Stranger Things may also be in danger. While the bulk of writing for the fifth and final season for the show has been basically completed, the strike may impact the release date—which had been rumoured to be around the beginning of 2024. However, with so much disruption currently afoot, the premier may end up being pushed till as late as 2025…it’s almost too tragic to imagine such a scenario.
Last but not least, fans of Saturday Night Live might want to look away for this next piece of news. SNL had been planning on having alumni and internet crush Pete Davidson return to their screens after a year-long hiatus. However, the WGA action has meant the Saturning night staple has had to scrap those plans. In fact, SNL has announced that they will have to rely on repeats for the foreseeable future, until the strikes are resolved.
It’s not completely known how long the strike will last, however, if you were to ask actor Amanda Seyfried for her opinion on the matter, she’d be sure to let you know: “Everything changed with streaming, and everybody needs to be compensated for their work. That’s fucking easy.”