It was business as usual, quite literally for Bill Maher on the first new episode of “Real Time” since the Hollywood strike began nearly 5 months ago. The monologue was a mix of jokes about current events — and events from a few weeks ago — and the panel discussion focused on a host of Maher’s pet punditries. And “New Rules” ended with a rant about how old Joe Biden is.
Missing from the episode? Any discussion of the strike, or the backlashes Maher provoked because of his statements or actions related to it.
First, at the beginning of September Maher dismissed some of the issues writers went on strike over as “kooky,” and said their demands amounted to thinking they are “owed a living as a writer.” That generated some criticism from both Writers Guild of America members and supporters, but a much bigger uproar happened on Sept. 13, when Maher announced he would be bringing “Real Time” back without writers.
This announcement provoked widespread outrage, most notably from WGA itself, which Maher belongs to. The Guild called his decision “disappointing,” while Meredith Stiehm, president of WGA West, stopped just short of outright calling him a scab during an interview with Jake Tapper.
Maher canceled plans to bring the show back like that on Sept. 18, though he denied this was in response to criticism or pressure. He instead cited the announcement the day before that WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the group representing studios, had agreed to resume negotiations.
Maher’s decision not to acknowledge any of that was particularly weird considering that he did talk about other backlashes he’s provoked in recent weeks, such as when he criticized the “Barbie” movie in August.
The closest Maher came to even acknowledging that the second-longest writers’ strike in Hollywood history happened came at the beginning of the panel discussion part of the show, when he thanked his writers:
“I want to thank everybody who made this possible. To be back, you know, I’m talking about my brilliant staff writers and non writers who scrambled the jets to be on in two days. And the union that expedited the paperwork so that we could get back so quickly, so thank you.”
And that’s literally it. Perhaps he’ll address those matters, or the deal WGA secured that brought its strike to an end on a future episode of “Real Time.”
But if you enjoy Maher’s comedy, you can watch his monologue at the top of the page now.
For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.