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Mockumentary meets reality TV: ‘Jury Duty’ is guilty of being hilarious and ridiculous

Girl holding a pen out infront of a piece of paper which says "verdict" and you can choose from ticking "guilty" or "not guilty"

You serve on a jury for 17 days with limited access to the outside world, only to find out it was fake.

This is the reality of Ronald Gladden, an everyday guy from California in the United States.

Amazon Prime Video’s Jury Duty is one of the funniest, most outrageous shows I have ever watched. And I can’t believe they pulled it off.

The eight episode series follows the ins and outs of a fake American civil jury trial, where every single person involved in the trial was an actor, except for Gladden.

With characteristics that are reminiscent to that of The Office, this absurd-at-times show just makes you want to keep watching because of the quirks and eccentricity of the characters.

Some of my favourite characters include:

  • Todd (David Brown), a juror who is a strange but extremely loveable man, with an intense obsession with his technological inventions.
  • Jeannie (Edy Modica), a juror who is a funny, confident, and laid back kind of girl, who takes a particular liking to juror Noah.
  • Barbara (Susan Berger), a juror who couldn’t seem bothered with the trial and consistently falls asleep during court sessions.
So, how did they pull it off?

The show was disguised under the premise that a documentary was being filmed on the jury process. The documentary was framed as providing exclusive, never-before-seen access to the deliberations of a jury, which is typically a highly confidential experience.

While this was a clever excuse to have camera’s around, and to be able to interview the jurors, it was the exceptional acting by the jurors that made the show so successful.

Whether it was scripted or improvised, the actors were committed to their characters, no matter how strange or quirky they had to be.

The inclusion of already famous actor James Marsden, who played an egotistical, annoying celebrity stereotype version of himself, would have made the experience all more convincing for Ronald, as this showed that even celebrities are required for civil duties.

Marsden’s character tried exceptionally hard to get out of jury duty, going as far as to call the paparazzi to come to the court, in order to try and get excused from his duties.

This backfired when the judge ordered the jurors to be ‘sequestered’, which is an isolation of a jury to avoid potential exposure of influence of information from outside the court.

The jurors then had to hand in their devices and spent the next three weeks together at the court or at their hotel.

Of course, this sequestering was all a part of the plot and successfully enabled the cast and Ronald to bond together.

The cast and Ronald played games together, watched movies, helped James Marsden with a script for an “up-and-coming role”, and even enjoyed a night out together at Margaritaville.

Getting to see the personalities of the jurors outside of the court room setting made the show even better to watch, as we got to be involved in side plots of the show.

A sneer at the judicial system in the United States

Jury Duty also makes a statement on the judicial system in the United States, and maybe the universal experience on having to go and serve on a jury.

The first episode goes over the process of choosing who is going to be on the jury.

Having sat next to Ronald in the waiting room, future juror Noah, who is an awkward, introverted guy, asks Ronald how you can get out of being on the jury.

Ronald replies saying he isn’t sure, but remembers an episode on Family Guy where Peter claims he is racist to get out of jury duty. He says this as an obvious joke.

Little did Ronald know, Noah would get up during jury selection and say in front of everyone “I’m actually a racist”, before quickly retracting his comment.

This serves as a parody that participating in the judicial system can sometimes be seen as a joke; that people would rather be perceived as genuinely racist, in order to not get picked for the jury.

Jury Duty highlights how people who are summoned for jury duty can view the experience as an inconvenience or hassle, and may not see the value in participating.

This is also shown when Barbara, an older woman on the jury, falls asleep during some of the court sessions – meaning that she couldn’t be bothered to stay awake to hear the arguments.

Ronald as the Hero
Star of Jury Duty Ronald Gladden

One thing I really liked about this show is how Ronald was never the actual punchline of the jokes in a malicious or ill-intended way.

I never found myself laughing at Ronald, but rather laughing with him, knowing the context of the show and how funny and absurd the acting was.

Ronald’s reactions to some of the quirkier aspects of the show had me genuinely giggling alongside him.

It could have been very easy for Jury Duty to turn into a sort of “you idiot Ronald, as if you didn’t know this was fake” type of thing.

However, it was the genuine bonding between the characters and Ronald that made the show the masterpiece that it is.

This is due to Ronald’s genuine and kind demeanour.

No matter what was thrown at him, Ronald chose to see the good in people, and ensured all members of the jury were included.

Take Todd Greggory (David Brown) for example. Todd is a strange guy with an obsession with quirky technological inventions. Todd’s role was designed to sort of creep Ronald out a bit.

From his infamous “chair pants”, or sliding notes to Ronald under their conjoining hotel rooms, Ronald surprised the makers of the show by taking Todd under his wing, as opposed to shunning him.

Todd’s infamous chair pants

The production team could not have selected a better “normal person” for us to see the jury through the eyes of, than Ronald.

Ronald’s consistent understanding and helping of the jury members, with whatever personal problems they were dealing with, was a true testament of who he is as a person, and this has earned him many endearing fans.

In the final episode, after Ronald delivered the verdict of the jury, it was revealed to Ronald that the whole show was fake.

I’m sure the makers of the show couldn’t have been nervous to see Ronald’s reaction to being lied to for three weeks, but to their joy, Ronald took it like a champ.

Ronald was also awarded $100,000 for his efforts in being in the show, so I don’t think I would mind either.

The show concluded nicely with the cast and Ronald reminiscing on their time together in the last three weeks.

The cast explained to Ronald that they “fell in love with him”, and assured him that many of the connections during the show were real, and weren’t just an act.

If you’re looking for a clever, funny and unique show to watch, look no further than Jury Duty.

You’ll laugh, love the characters and go through the motions of the jury duty process, all alongside Ronald.