Have You Watched “Jury Duty”? (My Thoughts)

I am absolutely delighted by Jury Duty.

The concept of this 8-episode show on Amazon Prime is that a court case was staged over 3 weeks with 12 particularly weird characters among the jury…and exactly 1 person who doesn’t know that none of this is real.

Normally this type of premise would a cruel prank at the expense of the 1 person (Ronald). But not in this case. There’s plenty of humor, but the show revolves around making Ronald the hero of the story (the main plot in court and each of the character-driven subplots). Sometimes the show needs to try really hard to get Ronald to step up, as he seems like more of an “I don’t want to get involved” kind of person, but it helps that he is a genuinely kind, likeable person (he’s 1 of 2500 people who responded to a craigslist ad for a “documentary” to follow their first time at jury duty).

Among the many fun, weird, and wacky characters in the show is actor James Marsden…playing himself. Well, a heighted version of himself in which he really, really wants people to know he’s a famous actor (“season 5 of Ally McBeal?”) I think it was a really clever choice, as Marsden isn’t the only recognizable actor on the show, but by having him there, he distracts from Ronald realizing that he’s probably seen everyone else on television too.

I love the good-hearted premise, the more absurd elements of jury duty (it was just a few months ago that I was an alternate on a week-long case), the wacky characters, the improvisation, and the impressive logistics of pulling off the feat.

Have you watched Jury Duty? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Have You Watched “Jury Duty”? (My Thoughts)”

  1. My wife and I really loved Jury Duty! I hadn’t laughed out loud at a TV show in a long time before this. The heart and humor they pack into these episodes felt so pure. Like you mentioned, I felt hesitant starting it because of the mean nature of many other shows with this premise.

    I remember the Joe Schmo Show (another hoax reality show from the early 00’s) changed their approach early in the season. Their original intention was to curate situations and humor at the expense of their target, Matt. However, everyone was developing connections and viewers started feeling bad for him. Matt started questioning the purpose of competing for money when he was making real friends on the show. The showrunners started writing scenes that would make Matt look more like the hero, similar to Jury Duty to bring a kinder undertone to everything, and I think the show ended up better for it.

    Fun fact – Kristen Wiig was a character on the first season of the Joe Schmo Show in 2003 – I wonder which actors/improvisers from Jury Duty will go onto thrive in Hollywood?

    Reply
    • That’s a neat turnaround for Joe Schmo! I think some of the actors in Jury Duty have been character/background actors in a number of other shows, but it would be neat to see one of them break through.

      Reply

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