It pains me to say it, but the best show on TV right now isn’t Succession. The best show on TV right now isn’t even on HBO. You won’t find it on Netflix. Hell, it’s not even on Hulu. The best show on TV right now is Jury Duty and, believe it or not, it’s on Freevee, an ad-supported streaming service owned by Amazon.
Jury Duty, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a hilarious and captivating docu-series that highlights what life is like serving on a jury. The big twist, though, is that the entire trial is fabricated. Everything is fake. Everyone you see on screen is an actor. The judge. The lawyers. The defendant. The bailiff. They’re all actors and accomplished improvisers. Everyone involved is in on the gag, except for one: a single juror named Ronald Gladden. In a jury of 12, Gladden is the only one who believes that the trial is real. And it’s through his eyes that the show majestically unfolds.
Gladden is under the impression that he’s part of a documentary showcasing what it’s like to serve on a jury. Meanwhile, the 11 other members of the jury — in addition to actor James Marsden who plays the part of an alternate juror — are a zany and diverse bunch who throw all sorts of shenanigans and peculiar situations at Gladden. For instance, one episode involves a juror asking Gladden for advice about how to make a move on a fellow juror.
Gladden’s genuine reactions to these outrageous yet believable situations are what make the show engaging, addicting, and ultimately heartwarming. In a twisted sense, Jury Duty is reality TV in its purest form.
While other reality shows in years past have showcased individuals who aren’t fully aware of why they’re being filmed, Jury Duty strikes a delicate balance of realness and absurdity that no other show of this kind has managed to hit. In the best possible way, Jury Duty is The Truman Show meets The Office meets Nathan For You. Perhaps not surprisingly, two of the show’s producers — Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky — were former producers on The Office.
One comment about the show I saw on social media described the show perfectly: “This show is pure gold. It’s like The Office if Jim was a real guy they hired and didn’t tell him it was a sitcom.”
Executive Producer Todd Schulman said of the show:
Jury Duty originated with a question: Was it possible to make a sitcom like The Office about a trial, populate it with brilliant comedic performers, and put a real person at the center of the show who doesn’t realize he’s surrounded by actors? We honestly had no idea but when we pitched it to Freevee we pretended like it was a sure thing.
Ultimately, the show works because Ronald is just so damn likable. He’s an everyman that you can’t help but root for. It may be an obscure reference, but Ronald is like a smart version of Fry from Futurama. And seeing the genuine bonds he develops with the characters is a sweet sight to behold. I won’t spoil the ending, but rest assured, the entire show is something of an emotional rollercoaster that you never want to end.
Jury Duty is only 8 episodes long, and with each episode clocking in at 30 minutes, it’s an easy binge. If anything, my only complaint is that the show was so good I was left wanting more. And with all due respect to Succession — which has been nothing short of astounding this season — Jury Duty is not only the best show on TV that no one’s watching, it’s the best show on TV period.
I can’t recommend Jury Duty enough. The show is fresh, impressively original, and downright hilarious. To catch up with the madness that is Jury Duty, you can watch it for free with ads on Amazon’s Freevee service.