When receiving a letter saying the daunting words, “You are summoned for jury duty,” most people dread the prospect of being actually selected as a juror. Some even take extra measures to try to get out of jury duty by fabricating an elaborate excuse to be dismissed. So, how can this tiresome experience be turned into an entertaining one? Well, co-creators Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, co-producers of “The Office,” cracked the case by creating a show that captures the mundane innings of jury duty in a humorous way. This show is called “Jury Duty.”
This reality mockumentary-style series follows Ronald Gladden, who shows up for jury duty in Los Angeles, believing he is performing his civic duty of being a potential juror. While Gladden waits to be called for jury duty selection, he meets strangers along with the famous actor James Marsden who plays a snobbish version of himself. However, Gladden doesn’t know that the entire case is fake and that everyone except him is an actor.
In this eight-episode series, the improv actors stay in character as they interact with Gladden while ordering lunch, watching movies and even going out for drinks during the trial process. These eventful interactions with one another make jury duty seem amusing, even when the jurors are sitting through the boring case. This is partly because of the show’s clear influence of “The Office” throughout the entire series. For instance, viewers will notice the similarity with the camera panning toward Gladden to capture his reactions and the confessionals with the jurors that intrigue the viewers.
Although elements are reminiscent of “The Office,” “Jury Duty” truly has a refreshing and unique spin on a reality mockumentary-style series. Unlike “Punk’d” or “Impractical Jokers,” the series follows a storyline instead of different scenarios being thrown at Gladden the entire show. Viewers get to see the process of being on jury duty while the camera captures moments of Gladden’s reactions and expressions with the scenarios tossed his way. From the start, with jury selection, to the end where the verdict is being made, the creators’ approach to the show makes it feel like viewers are watching the behind-the-scenes of being a juror.
However, it is Gladden’s unexpected charm that truly makes the series unique. In each situation, Gladden is able to respond in such an endearing way. For instance, Todd (Gregory Brown), an eccentric character, was supposed to make Gladden uncomfortable. Yet the opposite happened. Gladden ensured Todd felt welcomed and tried to get him out of his shell. Viewers saw this with particular scenes like Gladden showing Todd the movie, “The Bug’s Life,” where he thought Todd could enjoy and relate to the main character, Flik (Dave Foley), as he is also an inventor.
Besides Gladden in the show, the actors put on a remarkable performance. Every actor was able to embody their role flawlessly and continue to stay in character the entire time. There were moments in the series where viewers forgot the actors were even playing a role. Some notable performances were from Officer Niki (Rashida Olayiwola), Vanessa (Cassandra Blair), Todd and Jeannie (Edy Modica). But every actor had their stand-out moments. They all were hilarious to watch and interact with Gladden in a fun-loving way that built a great dynamic. From playing video games together to hosting a birthday party for one of the jurors, it seems like being a juror would be alright.
“Jury Duty” is simply a must-watch show if you love mockumentary and sitcom-style TV series. The show has funny elements, from long-running jokes to quick-witted remarks that continuously make viewers laugh throughout the series. At the same time, “Jury Duty” pulls at the heartstrings with moments of endearment stemming from the interactions between Gladden and the cast, making it all the more unique. All in all, this series was a comedy hit.
“Jury Duty” is available on Amazon Prime Video and Amazon’s free streaming service, Freevee.