On September 10, 2023, America’s sweetest talk show host lit her career on proverbial fire. Drew Barrymore announced the return of her daytime talk show in spite of the ongoing WGA writer’s strike, incurring the wrath of the guild and the public. Deadline reported Barrymore’s bizarre and now deleted Instagram pseudo-apology a few days later, and by Sunday, September 17, Barrymore announced that the show would not return until the strike was resolved.
Drew Barrymore’s gaffes over her daytime talk show and the WGA strike continue to stack up, causing her to abandon her plans to go back on the air.
Let’s break this down.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike on May 2, 2023, after negotiations broke down with major Hollywood studios, represented collectively by the AMPTP. Without a contract to govern deals for its members, the WGA enacted a work stoppage that prohibits writers from contributing material to shows, thus shutting down many major productions.
The Drew Barrymore Show had already concluded its third season before the strike began. Barrymore showed her support for the writer’s strike by refusing to host the MTV Movie Awards in May.
“There’s a huge question of the why — why am I doing this? Well, I certainly couldn’t have expected this kind of attention, and we aren’t going to break rules and we will be in compliance. I wanted to do this, because as I said, this is bigger than me and there are other people’s jobs on the line.”Drew Barrymore in a now-deleted Instagram video
Then September came. Drew Barrymore announced that her show would return without writers on September 18, a choice she justified by citing the many jobs at stake. The WGA quickly reprimanded Barrymore, pointing out that, in spite of her emotional appeal, The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA-covered production. A return would make her a scab.
Momentum was built around the WGA’s stance, and the world did an about-face on Drew Barrymore. Her public image as a nurturing and understanding was torn down as America’s sweetheart became a villain.
Then she doubled down.
Drew Barrymore posted a video to Instagram on September 15. No makeup, tears in her eyes, and a lump in her throat, she proceeded to apologize to writers and unions at large for the hurt she had caused in her choice to bring her show back – but decided she would do it anyway.
Again, Drew Barrymore attempted to take the high road. “There’s a huge question of the why — why am I doing this?” she said. “Well, I certainly couldn’t have expected this kind of attention, and we aren’t going to break rules and we will be in compliance. I wanted to do this, because as I said, this is bigger than me and there are other people’s jobs on the line.”
Barrymore took ownership of her choice and faced the music. However, she was not interpreted as brave and vulnerable, as she likely expected, but as out of touch.
Giving in to the scathing reactions from the public, Drew Barrymore has relented and will not be returning to the airwaves until the strike is over.
Criticism for Drew Barrymore continued to pour in. She became a hot topic for all the wrong reasons. And, yes, she took her Instagram videos down (good luck finding them now).
Then, from the black smoke of battle, Drew Barrymore emerged waving a white flag. On Sunday, September 17, the eve of the show’s purported return, news broke that The Drew Barrymore Show would not air until the conclusion of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
Drew Barrymore once again apologized, this time for the right thing, and wished a speedy and fair resolution to the strikes. The most dramatic chapter of the 2023 WGA strike so far is now closed, offering a case study in the power of united workers and, perhaps more poignantly, public perception. Now, Drew Barrymore can only hope that her audience will return to her show.