Writers Strike 1988: Scabs to the Rescue
"It's a little as if you leave your children with a trusted sitter for the weekend and return to find them all juvenile delinquents and in jail" - Claire Labine, co-creator of ABC's "Ryan's Hope" on the damage caused by substitute scriptwriters during the 13-week writers' strike in 1981.
Unlike primetime programs, many of which had all of their scripts completed by the time the strike began, daytime soaps are in a completely different game. They are expected to continue churning out fresh episodes throughout the year. So, how did the "Big Three" deal with the sudden departure of soap writers in March 1988?
ABC announced the programming would continue as usual; CBS said the actors would continue to get the scripts; and only NBC admitted that they would be hiring non-guild freelancers. One of the WGA executives sarcastically said at the time the scripts would probably be written by "secretaries, producers and somebody's mother."
Many of the soaps suffered in quality as the strike dragged on, but they had mostly managed to sustain viewer interest. "Santa Barbara" was named that year "Outstanding Daytime Drama Series" (winning 2 out of 8 nominations) winning praise for Eden's rape storyline.