Written by on May 25, 2023

I’m a fan of shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation and their style of documentary-comedy. The actors come off as real people living their lives in some mundane job and the shooting style is like a small camera crew following them around no matter where they go. What made these type of shows become so popular is that they were basically sitcoms with the laugh track and live studio audience removed from the equation. While it took a bit to catch on people find those shows less belittling without telling them when it’s OK to laugh. Jury Duty is in that same vein where no one has to tell you when to laugh, but there’s one more thing. Amazon Prime, along with creators from The Office took that formula to a new and hilarious level by adding in a twist: one of the people on the show doesn’t know it’s all fake.

Ronald Gladden is an everyman chosen for jury duty. He has to go through the same steps anyone else would to be chosen or eliminated from service. He is fine with being on the jury but is understandably apprehensive. He is surrounded by a jury pool of somewhat misfit characters and one friendly, but not exactly likeable James Marsden. James is the only person now in Ronald’s life that is actually playing himself. Marsden pulls off the vanity that many associate with Hollywood stars thinking that events are revolving around them and that they should get some form of special treatment. It’s all for the show but it is masterful. In fact, every “person” on the jury pulls off their character perfectly. We have Noah (Mekki Leeper) the nervous geeky guy. Lonnie (Ishmel Sahid) the straight forward young black man (he has never felt marginalized<wink>). Jeannie (Edy Modica) the trailer park-ish free spirit with a crush on Noah. Todd (David Brown) is a man who thinks cybernetics is the future and has odd behavior to go with his inventions. There are obviously more, but they better experienced than explained here. With a full jury plus the alternates it makes up a diverse cast of all ages and backgrounds that make Ronald feel like every day cannot be crazier than the last until it is. Each character has their quirks and behaviors meant to get under Ronald’s skin or provoke a laugh or uncomfortable interaction. While they have scripted lines to use Ronald has no script and they have to play off of his reactions. Even the judge and lawyers are actors in this show and they have to keep Ronald from guessing that he is being duped all along. The hidden cameras miss nothing in shows like this and the reactions from Ronald are as real as you can get.

Jury Duty is a great show to watch for more than one reason. First, the actors and the scenarios are pretty funny. You can’t help but laugh at the terrible defense attorney and the animation he uses to show as a reenactment of his clients actions on the day in question. Second, this truly is an experiment looking into the background of the legal system and how people react to scenarios and how someone with the right attitude can make it all go the right way to justice being fairly served. Last, Ronald Gladden is a great guy! You can’t help but laugh with him wen someone does something weird or feel his embarrassment when someone gives him a TMI moment. The story isn’t about just one thing, but about many things in society and how they are viewed. The only drawback is that Jury Duty is available as part of Amazon’s Feevee service where there are commercials a few times during the show. Just like network television you get 3 commercial breaks that are about 2 minutes long. It’s not too bad and it lets you soak up a bit of the program or run for a drink or snack without pausing. While watching this show may cause you to strike up a conversation about what you are seeing it will keep you entertained to the end wondering how the trial will end up and whether justice will be served. Maybe you will be wondering how to get a pair of “chants”. One thing you will definitely talk about is the heart of Ronald Gladden and how one person can make a difference when they simply do what is right.

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