Jury Duty has become a sleeper hit for Amazon. Streaming through the Freevee ad-supported service formerly known as IMDb TV, which you can access via Prime Video or a standalone app, Jury Duty is a semi-scripted docuseries peeking behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a trial juror. At least that’s what Juror number six Ronald Gladden thinks. In reality, he’s the subject of a social experiment. It’s a fake case and everyone else is an actor. The idea? To see how Gladden might react to the ridiculous, unbeknownst to him scripted, situations.
- The creators worked on The Office
- Judge Alan has famous sons
- Gladden answered a Craigslist ad for the role
- The cast has impressive acting credits
- Gladden says it took months to come to terms with what happened
- Gladden heard from Ben Schwartz
- Gladden is still friends with James Marsden
- He almost figured it out a few times
The unique premise is best described as The Truman Show (or The Joe Schmo Show for those who remember it) meets Punk’d meets The Office. And it works. What makes Jury Duty so watchable, and one of 2023’s best comedies so far, is the surprisingly heartwarming reactions from the unsuspecting 32-year-old star of the show, who continued to surprise producers and the cast again and again. He handled every situation wonderfully, even going out of his way to help others.
After powering through the eight episodes, here are interesting facts about the cast, crew, and Gladden himself.
The creators worked on The Office
If you sensed that some elements of the show were reminiscent of workplace sitcoms like The Office, that’s for good reason. Jury Duty was created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, both of whom previously worked as writers and producers on The Office.
In fact, they came up with the idea for Jury Duty when wondering what a sitcom like The Office would be like if the core story was a trial. After that came the idea of a real person who didn’t know they were surrounded by actors. From these early brainstorming ideas, Jury Duty was born.
Judge Alan has famous sons
Fans might recognize the real surname of the actor who plays Judge Alan Rosen, as it’s one that’s well-known in Hollywood. And yes, there is a relation. Alan Barinholtz is the father of actors Ike and Jon Barinholtz.
Ike Barinholtz is known for his role in sketch comedy series MADtv as well as series like The Mindy Project, The Afterparty, and, most recently, History of the World, Part II; as well as movies like Neighbors, Blockers, and The Oath. His brother and Alan’s other son Jon, meanwhile, starred in the NBC sitcom Superstore. As Alan Barinholtz noted on Jury Duty, he is not, in fact, a judge. But he did acquire his law degree and worked as a lawyer. He has also dabbled in acting prior to taking this role.
Gladden answered a Craigslist ad for the role
How did Gladden get on the show in the first place? Producers put an ad on Craigslist calling for people to join a documentary about what it’s like to be a juror in a trial. Gladden thought it sounded interesting and since his current job contract was about to expire, he figured he would apply while he was between jobs.
The idea of working for a couple of weeks for a handsome paycheck sounded perfect. There was also the added advantage of being on television. Little did Gladden know that he would not only be in the documentary, but he would be the subject of it. Reportedly, more than 2,500 people applied for the position. Following the long and arduous casting process, Gladden was finally chosen.
The cast has impressive acting credits
While producers did not believe Gladden would recognize any of the cast as actors (James Marsden excepted, of course), many of them have impressive credits to their names. Susan Berger, who plays juror Barbara Goldstein, appeared in four episodes of American Horror Story as the character Real Butcher. Kirk Fox, who was juror Pat McCurdy, played Kenny Boy in six episodes of Reservation Dogs. Ross Kimball was Sal Baker in four episodes of Chicago Med. Mekki Leeper, meanwhile, who plays Noah, has a major role in the series The Sex Lives of College Girls.
Producers may very well have been taking a gamble by casting actors who had appeared in some high-profile shows. It’s unlikely, but it was possible Gladden could have recognized one of them.
Gladden says it took months to come to terms with what happened
Gladden told People Magazine that it took him “months and months” to process that everything he went through was fake and that he was not part of a real trial. What’s more, he would continuously recall interactions he had with other people, including the other jurors, then have to come to terms with the fact that it was staged and he was talking with an actor the entire time.
What’s more, Gladden told TV Guide that he became paranoid immediately after leaving the sequestered hotel. He believed the crew was still following and secretly filming him and the docuseries was not over. He noted, however, that the feelings faded quickly and he was able to finally get back to real life.
Gladden heard from Ben Schwartz
Those who watched the show will recall an early interaction between Gladden and actor James Marsden. While initially forgetting that Marsden was in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Gladden went home to watch the movie, then apologized the next day, applauding Marsden’s performance. But he also seemed more excited that Ben Schwartz was the voice of Sonic, mentioning that he was a big fan.
After filming, while speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Marsden presented Gladden with a text message from Schwartz. In the message, Schwartz thanked Gladden for being a fan and invited him to any improv show to watch and presumably meet him in person.
Gladden is still friends with James Marsden
Gladden left the experience with much more than tons of stories to tell his friends and family about how he talked to, ran lines with, and even had margaritas with actor James Marsden. (And took the heat for his bathroom blunder!) The two have reportedly stayed in contact after filming. Marsden called Gladden a “pure-hearted human being” in an interview with People. Marsden explained that while he never intended to play such a prank and then abandon the person altogether, he sees Gladden as someone he’d “want to be friends with anyway.”
For the record, Marsden says he was playing an “entitled Hollywood” version of himself, which Gladden has said in interviews was a huge relief to learn.
He almost figured it out a few times
Some wonder how Gladden didn’t figure out what was going on sooner. He admits that he almost did figure it out on a few occasions. The first time he clued into something being off, he told ET Online, was after a security guard was fired for allowing paparazzi to get into the courthouse. He commented to Marsden that he felt like he was on a reality TV show. This prompted Marsden to rush back to the control room and warn them to dial back because Gladden was getting suspicious.
Gladden didn’t find it unusual that there was always a camera on him, especially since he was often sitting with Marsden. It would make sense for producers of this small cable docuseries to film a lot of footage of the star juror. However, he did wonder why Marsden was participating in such a small, cable TV docuseries in the first place. Nonetheless, Gladden shrugged off the concerns, and totally believed it was all real.
You can stream all eight episodes of Jury Duty on Freevee.
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