Jury Duty has become one of the most talked-about comedies of the year thus far. The mockumentary sitcom adopts a unique though not completely new premise: everyone is an actor except for one young man who believes he’s called onto an actual trial. Hidden cameras capture various moments and conversations he has with others, resulting in a The Office-like comedy that, while slow-paced at times, will have you laughing the entire way through.
Each of the talented actors plays a role, mostly eccentric individuals. Some want to be anywhere else but there. Others revel in the excitement of being part of such a huge case. They are each likable in their own ways, but a few stand out.
Barbara is like the grandmother everyone loves to have around. She’s fun and hip but still exhibits the usual traits of a retired, older woman, like being unable to stay awake during the trial and not realizing until it’s too late that her drinks don’t have any alcohol in them.
She provides fun comic relief throughout the series, especially in the scene after she takes drugs to keep herself awake during the trial and turns into a happy-go-lucky, giggling grandma.
Simultaneously appearing as though he both doesn’t care much about the case because it’s the last of his career and caring deeply to make sure it doesn’t tarnish his long-lasting reputation, Judge Rosen handles everything in stride. He’s patient and soft-spoken, yet also stern. He continuously scolds Ronald when he isn’t keeping his jury members in check (like Barbara when she dozes off) and looks visibly frustrated with the defense attorney and his juvenile video re-enactments that look like they were made by a 10-year-old (indeed, he reveals, they were done by his pre-teen nephew).
Playing a judge was simple for actor Alan Barinholtz, who, in addition to being an actor, is also a lawyer in real life. But how he handled even the most awkward moments with grace makes him the type of judge anyone would want to have on their case.
Fans can’t help but relate to the totally Gen-Z Noah, who is adamant that he cannot be on the jury because his parents are going to be away and he has an opportunity to be alone with his girlfriend to do “whatever they want.” He’s shy and reserved, clearly being manipulated by the unfaithful (albeit fake) girlfriend who has trotted off to Mexico without him.
Noah’s transformation, however, into a young man with swagger and confidence who finally learns to think and speak for himself had fans loving him. He’s the geek who turned chic, and who doesn’t like a good makeover story?
Jeannie is so completely out there that fans can’t help but love her positive attitude and how much she exudes confidence and embraces her quirks. She instantly sets her eyes on Noah and describes him as an innocent young man she wants to corrupt. As the audience sees in later episodes, she achieves this in spades.
She was so friendly, in fact, that she was able to convince a female security guard to pull up Noah’s girlfriend’s Instagram profile to prove to him that the mysterious friend she was with in Mexico wasn’t a woman at all, but rather a man. Despite being stuck on the jury, Jeannie always approached every situation with a smile on her face and a bit of mischief.
Todd is socially awkward, loves to talk about his crazy inventions, and embarrasses himself on numerous occasions. Most notable is when he shows up in court with his “chair pants.” The more odd behavior Todd exhibits, however, the more likable he becomes. He has a lot of insight to share, and, as Officer Nikki Wilder expresses to him, he is a genius and should be proud of that, not cower when he’s complimented.
Todd has one of the best transformations on the show, going from a shy young man to a complete makeover candidate. He began to dress differently, do his hair in a more rebellious way, and became overall more confident. His quirky personality is what makes Todd stand out, and in turn, so likable.
On the surface, James is largely unlikeable, mainly because he is purposely playing an arrogant, entitled version of himself. But it’s in knowing that piece of information that makes him so likable. He beautifully convinces Ronald of so many ridiculous things that involve everything from fake excrement to his nervousness over getting a part in a big movie (that everyone but Ronald knows doesn’t actually exist.)
It’s clear that as the scenes continue, James realizes what a nice and genuine person Ronald is and he plays off that. Even though his character is meant to be a spoiled, narcissistic actor, there is something oddly endearing about the portrayal as the “just famous enough actor” who some people don’t even recognize.
Ronald Gladden is the only person on Jury Duty who actually isn’t a “character.” He is himself, being filmed with hidden cameras as he interacts with these actors playing the roles of eccentric individuals.
Ronald comes out looking like a hero, however. He is patient, kind, and confident. He does his best to help the awkward people that others might have tried to shy away from. He is sweet, thoughtful, and genuine. This is why it’s no surprise that after getting over the initial shock that he wasn’t involved in a real trial, Ronald remained friends with many of the cast members, Marsden included. He’s just that likable of a guy.
Jury Duty is now streaming on Amazon Freevee.
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