REVIEW: Amazon Prime’s ‘Jury Duty’ is heartwarming, hilarious


Courtesy Amazon Prime

“Jury Duty” is a mockumentary-style television show out now to stream on Amazon Prime.

Calla Torres, Staff Writer

Amazon Prime’s “Jury Duty” combines aspects of a reality show and a mockumentary to create an engaging, humorous and endearing story centered around one of the most mundane American experiences: jury duty.

Directed by Jake Szymanski, the eight-episode show was released this April and follows Ronald Gladden, a real juror who believes he’s participating in a documentary about the functions of a court and jury duty. However, in reality, everybody else on the show is an actor, and everything that happens during the seventeen-day trial is scripted. 

The trial itself is a civil court trial over a workplace issue. However, it’s the wild events that happen during it and the people involved in the trial that make it interesting. 

Graphic Calla Torres

Despite the fact that, for the actors, much of the show and its scenes were planned out, a large portion of the interactions with Ronald involved improvisation; though stunts and the ideas of jokes could be rehearsed, Ronald’s genuine reactions could not be predicted, which produced some funny moments early on.

Though most shows bargain on big Hollywood names to attract viewers, the cast of “Jury Duty” was uniquely composed of less recognizable actors. This was largely due to the fact that if Ronald recognized any of the other jurors or people involved, he could become suspicious and the hard work that went into the show would go to waste. Every actor did an exceptional job of staying in character throughout these interactions and not revealing the show’s true premise.

James Marsden, notably a star of “The Notebook” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” was featured playing himself, bringing an exaggerated and egotistical character to the cast. His character and others help reveal the true nature of Ronald: when presented with gadget-obsessed and oddball neighbor Todd (David Brown), will he reject or embrace him? How will he deal with Jeannie’s (Edy Monica) obsession with Noah (Meeki Leeper) and Noah’s own relationship issues?  

All of these factors, in addition to the popularity of the show on social media, helped it quickly become a hit. At the release of its finale in late April, it was the most popular streaming series. Ronald, who in reality is a solar contractor, has become a fan-favorite with his kindness throughout the show and humbleness even now in the spotlight.

Not many reality shows follow someone who is unaware of its true intentions. If you frequently suffer from second-hand embarrassment, watch “Jury Duty” with caution. Nevertheless, it’s a fresh spin on an age-old television concept and is guaranteed to entertain.