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Jury Duty, A Surprisingly Compelling Binge

By Lori Perkins

My favorite TV shows have completed their seasons (Ted Lasso, Yellow Jackets, Grey’s Anatomy), and we are in the midst of the writer’s strike, so I’ve had to really look around for new things to watch, and I have eclectic taste. While scrolling through the suggestions, I came across the title Jury Duty, and I decided to give it a try, because jury duty in New York City is always a real trip and I wanted to see what could possibly be done with this concept.

An aside here. I live in the Bronx, a borough notorious for not having enough English-understanding residents to fill its courtrooms, so I get called for jury duty like clockwork. I recently completed my jury duty request after the pandemic and cancer treatment, which they would not let me out of. So I got Covid in the four hours I was in the Bronx courthouse, and when I sent a note informing them that I had gotten Covid from jury duty, they replied, “thank you for your service.”

I thought the TV show Jury Duty would go something like that—wacky experiences and strange participants. But the show turned out to be so much more. The basic premise of the show, which I believe is filmed in L.A., is to document the inner workings of a jury trial through the eyes of 29 year-old juror Ronald Gladden, who doesn't realize that everyone, except him, is an actor. The actor James Marsden is one of the jury alternates and creates a small bit of havoc that causes the jury to be sequestered. It’s all fake, and real, at the same time.

But the true joy of the eight-episode series is that the real person, Ronald Gladden, who, of course, is selected to be the jury foreman, is such an incredibly ethical and kind human being that every situation he is placed in where he could be overwhelmed or perhaps realize this couldn’t possibly be real, he handles with grace and kindness. It’s like a younger Ted Lasso as a jury foreman.

The creators of the show couldn’t possibly have foreseen how this show would spin out, but it’s a surprising delight, a one-of-a-kind piece of TV history.

Definitely worth a binge.


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