UPDATE (Sept. 18) — Variety reports that Drew Barrymore has halted her talk show’s return following the backlash.
By SARAH TUCKER
(Sept. 12, 2023) — Drew Barrymore is a scab.
On Sunday, Drew Barrymore announced she would be resuming taping of The Drew Barrymore Show, despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike her show’s writers are participating in. With carefully crafted language, the statement delicately sidesteps the existence of the writers’ strike. But no amount of “astute humility” can erase one simple fact: when her show airs, none of the writing will have been done by WGA writers. Which makes Drew Barrymore a scab.
Despite the conversational vibe, a lot of writing actually goes into talk shows, from opening monologues to interviews. The writers on her show are essential, otherwise notoriously stingy studios probably wouldn’t keep them around. These writers are striking for compensation and worker protections that reflect the essential nature of their work, wrestling their fair share out of the clutches of greedy and callous studio bosses.
— Writers Guild of America, East (@WGAEast) September 11, 2023
It is no secret that strikes are tough. They strain resources and mental wellbeing. The IATSE members and Teamsters who are honoring this strike and taking a financial hit are genuine heroes.
Because strikes are also essential. Workers must control the ability to withhold our labor when we’re being exploited, otherwise we lose our leverage in the fight for economic justice. No leverage, no limiting the worst inclinations of bosses and billionaires. That’s why crossing a picket line and scabbing is so reprehensible; it means directly betraying workers taking a stand, and spitting in the face of working people everywhere.
While the show’s striking writers walk the picket line outside the studio, public opinion is rolling in online, markedly in support of the writers. This tracks; more than 70% of Americans support unions, including 88% of folks under 30. And in polling, more than 65% of Americans support the WGA’s strike specifically. Folks don’t like when people – even beloved celebrities – side with rich guys looking to force people to lose their homes. It’s even more disappointing that Barrymore, who knows what it’s like to be exploited in Hollywood, is willing to side with studios that create unlivable working conditions.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 11, 2023
Above all, people don’t like being lied to. Barrymore’s statement makes much of her compliance with SAG-AFTRA guidelines, while omitting that she is restarting her show in defiance of an ongoing writer’s strike — a strike with a picket line, of her writers, in front of her studio. And while Barrymore’s statement calls out previous “solidarity with the writers,” two audience members report being kicked out of her show’s Monday taping simply for wearing small WGA pins.
Barrymore says she wants to get back on air to bring us together. But we already are together, united in backing the writers. If Drew truly wants to “own this choice,” she should say it with her chest; this is what a scab looks like.
Sarah Tucker is Digital Organizer for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Check out the WGA’s strike support page to learn how you can support striking writers.