Jury Duty and The Man Who Turned a Mockery Into a Moral Triumph

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| August 27, 2023

Take a bow, Ronald Gladden!

Who is Ronald Gladden, I hear you ask? Well, he’s the real star of the show Jury Duty

Jury Duty is a reality hoax sitcom based around a fictional court case. Everybody in the show is an actor, except for one person: Ronald Gladden. The judge is an actor. The lawyers are actors. The other eleven members of the jury are actors! James Marsden is an actor… and also in this show. That wasn’t a random name pulled from nowhere! 

The Premise

What began as a listing on Craigslist to become a voluntary juror for a documentary became a trial for the human condition. When Ronald responded, he had no idea that he would be the subject of the entire show.

So there was this one scene in Family Guy…

For the entirety of the two week trial, everyone else in Ronald’s life were actors. This includes the recognizable James Marsden (OMG, it’s Cyclops from X-Men!), who plays an embellished version of himself. He’s the key to the ruse, as he causes the entire jury to be sequestered for the duration. So that’s a little suspicious. 

But there had to be a balance between the ridiculous and the mundane so that the subject didn’t suspect anything. The trial, for instance, was not extraordinary in any way; it was a simple negligence compensation hearing between an employer and a former employee. The show is edited into around three and a half hours, covering a two-week period. That’s a crapton of downtime to ensure their cover isn’t blown. 

This is the best kind of Reality TV. You know exactly what is scripted and what is real, and everybody is scripted apart from Ronald. But you can’t script reactions to what he does. That’s what’s special about this cast. Their ability to react in character and improvise is impressive. How do you react when you’re expecting someone to duck and they end up diving? Ask this troupe of actors, because they did a sublime job!

Does he know?

So here’s the thing: this show only works because Ronald Gladden is a standup human being with a strong moral compass. Because if he wasn’t, he could have been shown as the worst person on Earth! Somehow, he handles everything thrown at him with style and class, and he’s not easily ruffled. 

His easy-going nature helped make this concept work. An anxious or nervous subject would have made the entire series mean-spirited. Or imagine a man who, instead of taking the trial seriously, like a civic duty, decided to make a mockery of the whole proceedings. Yes, I know it’s already a mockery (comedy), but you catch my drift! That doesn’t work unless you’re creating a programme to ridicule that person.   



OK, so I know I’m late to this specific party. The series was released in April and has since garnered critical acclaim, being nominated for four Primetime Emmy awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series. But hey, I only discovered this recently, and maybe some people are yet to find it. 

Reality television is not a genre that I mess with too often, but this series is different. It’s funny and has so much heart. There’s definitely some cringe, too, like every show in this genre. But the good significantly outweighs the bad.

The funny is found in the situations that the producers manufacture. Ronald and James Marsden running lines for a fictional part for what seemed like hours. Todd, another juror, arriving at court wearing his trousers with a seat attached. Barb, an elderly juror, falling asleep constantly during the hearing. All ridiculous enough to be funny but normal enough to be believable. 

Believability was key because if Ronald rumbled the show, it was all over. It would have been a performance, and they would surely stop filming. There was a lot of tension during the more outlandish moments. Would Ronald see through it all? Did he know? That enhanced the enjoyment of watching the show.

Say whaaaaaaaaaaat?

The heart is Ronald Gladden. This concept lives and dies with its protagonist, and Jury Duty somehow found the perfect person for the job. A genuine and loyal man with a great sense of right and wrong. Any deviation from that would not work. Congratulations to everyone involved in its terrific casting because you freaking did it. 

Jury Duty is available to watch on Amazon Freevee right now! I sentence you all to watch it!

Soup Rating 8/10

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