The verdict is in: ‘Jury Duty’ a breakout hit

Photo courtesy of IMDb

By Emma Weidmann | Arts and Life Editor

This review is spoiler-free.

You’ve probably seen all about Amazon Prime’s “Jury Duty” on TikTok by now. If you were waiting for your sign to start watching, here it is. The 18-episode show from Freevee is one of the most surprising new shows to come out in a while, with a unique and original premise that is genuinely well-executed.

That premise is this: Ronald Gladden is a normal guy. Gladden isn’t an actor, but he believes that he’s been summoned for jury duty and that the trial will be filmed for a documentary on the legal process. What he doesn’t know is that the rest of the jury are actors.

Well, except James Marsden. Everybody knows Marsden.

The actors surrounding Gladden on the jury spend the whole show following a script like normal, interacting with Gladden and remaining in character even when the cameras aren’t rolling. They navigate slip-ups like saying the real name of the actors and worked with Gladden’s girlfriend as well as planting hidden cameras in order to pull off the prank seamlessly.

Throughout the course of the show, the entirely fabricated civil case involving a workplace dispute is heard by a jury that is sequestered seemingly due to James Marsden’s distracting and disrupting levels of fame. Again, Gladden is blissfully unaware that Marsden having called the “paparazzi” to crowd the courthouse was fake and planned — not in fact an attempt to get out of jury duty, but actually a plot point devised by a team of writers.

So, why should you be watching “Jury Duty” with each second of your spare time? First, it’s a refreshing break from other new reality TV releases like “Love is Blind.” There’s no brattiness or catfights, and you can safely watch “Jury Duty” knowing that the whole thing being scripted is part of the fun, not just a way to force an otherwise boring show to be more interesting.

Secondly, Gladden is truly likable. He’s a main character who has no idea he’s a main character, and his humble attitude is no joke. In fact it’s so prevalent that even though the rest of the cast are actors, they become truly drawn and attached to Gladden through the duration of the case, forging a real friendship that goes beyond a script.