“Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo hasn’t officially given a statement about the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, but she has shared something perhaps more powerful: a picture. On Tuesday, the Golden Globe-nominated actor posted a meme of herself from her hit show, criticizing Netflix for failing to pay actors residuals.
The meme Pompeo posted on her Instagram Stories references the Season 2 episode “As We Know It,” which sees Dr. Meredith Grey operating on a man with a bomb in his chest. A crossed-armed image of Meredith is captioned with the text “Me when there’s a [bomb emoji] in the chest cavity.” Above that, Pompeo wrote, “Also me when @netflix Doesn’t pay actors residuals holla let’s talk [sic].”
Though residuals for shows licensed to streamers such as Netflix come from the studios that produced them, one of the major points of the SAG-AFTRA strike is that streamers should also pay residuals on these series.
Since “Grey’s Anatomy” arrived on Netflix, the Shonda Rhimes-created series has been a massive hit for the streamer. In fact, it’s been so popular that Netflix’s official companion site TUDUM wrote a list of the 25 “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes to watch again. The drama’s run on Netflix made Nielsen’s top 15 streaming programs overall for 2022, coming in sixth place with an estimated 26.8 billion minutes viewed, beating out popular shows like “Criminal Minds,” “Bluey,” “Wednesday” and “Gilmore Girls.”
Speaking of “Gilmore Girls,” Pompeo isn’t the only star of a massive network hit who’s frustrated with Netflix. On Sunday, Sean Gunn, known for playing Kirk Gleason in 137 episodes of The WB and later CW hit, spoke to TheWrap about Netflix’s lack of residuals and the secrecy around the platform’s numbers. Gunn had previously spoken to The Hollywood Reporter in an interview that was removed because the video “did not note that the residuals Gunn was referencing are paid by the studio and not the streamer, Netflix.”
“To me, that was a very odd reason to take it down because the whole point I was making was that we don’t get the residuals that we deserve from Netflix,” Gunn told TheWrap. “There’s no participation in the success of the show. Because their numbers are hidden, because Netflix operates in total secrecy, we are totally unable to share when a show’s a big success.”
The actor also emphasized that, in Netflix’s current model, actors are “totally unable” to share when their show is a success. SAG-AFTRA is not looking for a “flat rate” but rather a percentage.
“The way that things are equitable is when we all share, and if profits are down, then profits will be down for us too as long as we have a fair piece of it. But you can’t say no, you don’t get any piece of it. That’s absurd,” Gunn said.
Pompeo and Gunn are far from alone. Even before the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes were making headlines, actors have been sharing their shocking low residuals, including star of Netflix original “Orange Is the New Back” Kimiko Glenn, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” star Kim Rhodes and “Reservation Dogs” and “Rutherford Falls” star Jana Schmieding. “P-Valley” lead Brandee Evans even shared a residual check for $0.01.
For all of TheWrap’s strike coverage, click here.