Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Jury Duty – Prime Video and Freevee
“Jury Duty” is a clever comedic series from the producers of “The Office” and “Bad Trip” that explores the American judicial process as seen by the eyes of the jury, except for the fact that of the 12 jurors, 11 are actors and the twelfth juror Ronald Gladden had no idea that it’s all fake. Actor James Marsden plays himself, however a much more conceited celebrity version that ends up getting the whole jury sequestered after paparazzi showed up to the courthouse. Everyone including the judge, bailiff, attorneys and defendants are also all actors and cameras film the whole thing under the pretense that they are doing a documentary about the American justice system which include personal interviews with all of the jurors as they move through the process.
The first episode was jury selection and the first day it appeared that a number of people were let out of serving due to what seemed trivial reasons. On the second day, a couple of the actors called upon tried the same excuses, but were denied and 11 ended up on the jury with Ronald while James was assigned as the second alternate, Juror #14. Judge Alan Rosen is played by actor Alan Barinholtz who is actually a seasoned attorney of 40 years practicing law in Ohio and Illinois and extremely believable in his role as judge.
The colorful cast playing the other jurors are an eclectic cross-section of interesting personalities and most of the dialog is actually improvised by the actors. In the second episode, the juror the judge assigned as foreman became injured in the deliberation room after a cabinet fell on him, so the judge assigned Ronald and the new foreman and James Marsden moved to first alternate. Ronald had a very positive personality and was always very conscientious toward the other jurors, though had no idea what kind of wrangling he was in for now that he was foreman.
Ronald’s first challenge was to keep juror Barbara Goldstein (Susan Berger) from not going to sleep while court was in session, and Judge Rosen stopped the proceedings several times to tell Ronald to do his duty as foreman and keep Barbara awake. Ronald was actually a James Marsden fan and brought DVDs of his movies to have him sign as well as running lines with him back at the motel were they were sequestered without outside contacts or even the use of their cell phones.
Halfway through the series, the judge and jury take a field trip to the site involved in the case and of course get themselves in various sorts of trouble. Even though some of the stunts the other jurors pulled were sometimes outrageous, Ronald always kept a calm demeanor and offered help and advise whenever he could since the whole jury viewed him as their leader after being assigned as foreman. Since half the jury was at a different motel than Ronald and James Marsden, they all gathered under the supervision of bailiff Officer Nikki Wilder (Rashida “Sheedz” Olayiwola) at a Mexican restaurant to share some time together but the excursion mainly became a babysitting job for Ronald.
After closing arguments, the jury got sent to the deliberation room to decide on a verdict. It was Ronald’s job as the foreman to lead the jury through deliberations and arrive at a unanimous verdict; but the jurors’ petty issues and personal drama threatened to derail everything. Eventually Ronald helped guide the group into a unanimous “not guilty” verdict and when he presented the verdict back in court he finally learned that the whole thing was fake. To his surprise, Ronald Gladden received $100,000 for his participation and the series has received 4 Emmy nominations.
Runtime: 8 – 30m episodes