Josh Friedman, The Terminator and The Strike

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was a continuation of the Terminator series. It ignored the third installment of the series – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – and picked up where Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). At the time, it was a relatively successful drama. It was rated as the most popular original scripted drama series of the 2007-2008 season. Fox picked it up for a second season, which lasted from 8 September, 2008 to 10 April, 2009.

While the second season had the typical length of 22 episodes, the first season was a bit off, it was only 9 episodes and began midway through the 2007-2008 television season. This is because the show’s creator and showrunner, Josh Friedman – a high-profile television executive and member of the Writers Guild of American (WGA) – was highly involved in the writers’ strike that occurred during the 2007-2008 season.

The 2007-2008 strike was the third-most significant strike in the history of the WGA. The strike began on 5 November, 2007 and lasted until 12 February, 2008. Of course, all this meant to audiences at home was that some of their favorite shows would lose a few episodes, it meant a lot more to the people who were actually involved in the strike.

josh_friedman_03When taking a look at Friedman’s situation specifically, it’s easy to see why he went on strike and the reason why this is one of the most studied labor movements of this century. Friedman was a high-profile writer/producer whose new show is pretty much guaranteed to have a large audience because it continues the story of a highly-rated, well-received blockbuster franchise that attracts fans, not only of science fiction, but of drama. The same high-profile writer was fighting kidney cancer just three years before the release of his guaranteed success.

Friedman’s loyalty to both the strike and WGA was an issue of human mortality. According to Cynthia Littleton in her book TV on Strike, Friedman’s words at a strike meeting were the turning point from an unorganized mess of raised voices and insults to a civil discussion.

“I’m thinking about the fact that I won’t get to go to the premier of my show,” Friedman said. “I had cancer last year. I didn’t know if I would be here this year. But I am not going back to work. That’s what this means to me.”

Friedman’s motivations for supporting the ideals of WGA and going on strike reveal a level of moral commitment to solidarity of laborers. His concerns were not all about the lack of compensation, they were about his livelihood. This is a powerful argument in favor of unions and the strike.

In terms of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, its first season finale, which was intended to be the midway point of the series, was fine in the end. It was a little shorter than it would have been, but the season did not make any less sense without the remaining four episodes. In other words, the show did not lose anything artistically because of the strike. It was continued for a second season, wherein the story was picked up from where it left off.

Though The Sarah Connor Chronicles was one Friedman’s passion projects, he was willing to give up four episodes, “90 percent” of post production and the potential for a second season (despite its being renewed for a second season) in the name of both WGA’s strike and human morality.

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