Is Drew Barrymore the New King of the Scabs? An Investigation

Drew Barrymore vs. The Strike

This is a story of betrayal, strikes, anger, and Drew Barrymore. This is a story of protests, scabs, exploitation, and a daytime talkshow. 

However, before we can get to all that, we have to travel back to 1890s America. We have to travel back to the steel mills.

The King of the Strikebreakers

In the late 1890s, there were a plethora of steelworkers striking across Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Birmingham, and Alabama. These men were sick to death of working 12 hour shifts, working seven days a week. They wanted to be treated like humans. 

However, amidst this tragedy, a businessman named Jack Whitehead concocted a lucrative plan. He hired legions of scabs and strikebreakers to take over the jobs of these downtrodden steelworkers. These events resulted in some steel mills winning and the stagnation of American worker rights, all while Whitehead became rather wealthy. 

During this time period, Whitehead also scored a nickname. He was known as “King of the Strikebreakers.”

Drew Barrymore’s Strike Betrayal 

In September of 2023, Drew Barrymore decided to restart her talkshow, The Drew Barrymore Show. This decision has been critiqued by a plethora of Hollywood writers and actors, as these artists are currently on strike. 

Like the 1890s steelworkers, these people want better working conditions. To be specific, the screenwriters want better compensation packages and streaming service residuals. They are worried that if television productions start up again, they’ll lose some negotiating power.

One organisation that was rather critical of Barrymore’s decision was the Writers Guild of America (WGA). This collective is behind the current writers strike.

In a social media statement, the WGA asserted, “The Drew Barrymore Show is a WGA covered, struck show that is planning to return.”

“The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike. Any writing on The Drew Barrymore Show is in violation of WGA strike rules.”

A struck show is a production that both union members and non-union members are prohibited from working on. If you work on a struck show, you will be banned from joining the WGA.

Meanwhile, some other critiques come from the likes of the actors Adam Conover and Josh Malina.

“This is incredibly disappointing,” Conover said. “Drew Barrymore’s show employs WGA writers who are currently on strike.”

“Drew: This harms your writers and all union workers. Please reconsider.”

Likewise, while Malina didn’t call Barrymore “The King of the Strikebreakers,” he still called her a scab.

The National Book Foundation Rescinds Drew Barrymore Invite

Now, it’s worth noting that it’s not just Hollywood screenwriters and actors who have critiqued Drew Barrymore’s decision. Earlier this year, Barrymore was invited to host the National Book Foundation’s 2023 National Book Awards. This invitation has since been revoked. 

As the National Book Foundation said in a statement, “The National Book Award is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture. In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony.”

“Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation.”

Drew Barrymore’s Huge Response

On September 12, Drew Barrymore responded to the accusations that she’s a scab and strike-wrecker. However, instead of cancelling her talkshow, she instead doubled down.

In a lengthy Instagram post, Barrymore wrote, “I made a choice to walk away from the MTV Film and Television Awards because I was the host, and it had a direct conflict with what the strike was dealing with which was studios, streamers, film, and television. It was also in the first week of the strike, and so I did what I thought was the appropriate thing at the time to stand in solidarity with the writers.”

“However, I am also making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it, but this is bigger than just me. I own this choice.”


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A post shared by Drew Barrymore (@drewbarrymore)

The Difference Between The Drew Barrymore Show and the News

Since this story broke, there has been a contingent of people questioning if Drew Barrymore is actually a scab. This is because The Drew Barrymore Show sometimes covers newsworthy topics. These contrarians are arguing that this series is more akin to CNN or Fox News than a traditionally scripted series.

However, this argument doesn’t hold water. Barrymore didn’t hire journalists to write her monologues and write her interview questions. She instead hired members of the WGA. In America, journalists are members of a different union, the NewsGuild-CWA.

According to the TV writer David Slack, this means that Barrymore is a scab. ‘Cause someone is going to have to write her monologue jokes. Someone is going to do work that a WGA member should do.

After Slack made this point in a social media thread, he then appealed to Barrymore’s moral compass

“It’s not too late to do the right thing, Drew Barrymore,” wrote Slack. “Yes, you’re contractually obligated, but you’re also Drew Barrymore. You have a lot of influence and power.” 

“You stood with the writers in the first weeks of our strike. Stand with us now.”

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