Earlier this year, a new show premiered on Amazon called “Jury Duty,” offering a fresh and innovative type of show. Blending elements of reality television, this series shadows a group of individuals selected for jury duty, but with a comedic twist – all the participants, except one, are skilled actors. Picture a compelling fusion of “The Truman Show” and “Punk’d,” as the show delves into the lives of the jury members throughout a civil court case. With a humorous approach, “Jury Duty” sheds light on the selection process, the dynamics between jurors, the myriad of issues they encounter during the trial, and even glimpses into their personal lives throughout this eventful period. In our upcoming review, we will explore each of the eight captivating episodes while identifying parallels to the real-life experience of serving on a jury.
Episode 1: Voir Dire
The premise for the inaugural episode is made apparent in the title; Voir Dire. Voir Dire refers to the process of selecting members to the jury from the pool of people who have been summoned for jury duty. This episode serves as our introduction to the show’s intriguing cast of characters, each grappling with a common theme: their relentless pursuit of evading jury duty! Two themes stand out in this episode that accurately reflect the inner workings of jury duty, offering an authentic glimpse into the real-life experience.
The first theme is the diversity of the members of the community that were summoned to jury duty. There are people of all ages, religions, races, and genders. This is exactly how it is in real life. There are going to be so many different types of people in the jury pool because the people selected are supposed to reflect the community at large, not just one part of town or the city. Moreover, the cast comprises a range of characters, spanning from young people to wise senior citizens, even incorporating a renowned actor. Amongst them, the central protagonist, Ronald Gladden, stands out as the sole believer in the authenticity of the trial, driving the narrative forward. James Marsden, an acclaimed actor, portrays an exaggerated version of himself, adding a comedic layer to the show’s dynamics. While these two characters take the spotlight, numerous other quirky and eccentric individuals breathe life into the series, setting Ronald up for a lot of unexpected moments to react to.
The second theme of the episode that relates to real life was that nearly everyone who was in the selection pool tried to do everything that they could to get out of serving on the jury. This was the most realistic part of the episode, with a little embellishment, because anyone who has been called to jury duty has either tried to get out of it or has seriously considered it. One of the more notable examples of trying to get out of jury duty occurs when the main character and one of the actors are having a conversation in the waiting room about how they plan to get out of jury duty. The main character references a television show where the excuse used by one person trying to get out of jury duty was to tell the judge that they were racist. While that sounds like an absolutely crazy thing to say, that’s exactly what the actor does. During the interview process for jury duty, he decides that his reason why he can’t serve on a jury is because he is a racist. The actor immediately decides that was a bad decision and tells the judge and everyone in the courtroom that he isn’t actually racist but was just trying to go home, but he is eventually selected to serve on the jury despite his best efforts to avoid it. Another example is when James Marsden concocts numerous schemes to try and get recognized by the judge or someone on the jury in an attempt to persuade them to excuse him from jury duty. After his attempts fail, he decides to call the paparazzi on himself and have them barge into the courthouse in order to get his picture in the court room. Despite his last efforts, he is selected to be on the jury and because of his stunt the judge decides to sequester the selected jury members, so they won’t be swayed by outside influences or distractions due to the presence of a recognizable public figure.
This is just the start, and in the next episode we really get into the experience of the jurors during their first days on the jury.