Real or Fake? The Question at the Centre of ‘Jury Duty’

Is Jury Duty real? Or is this series fake?

If you were to stumble upon a scene from 2023’s Jury Duty, you might wonder if this programme’s real or rehearsed. However, the answer to that question’s a bit complicated, so let’s get into the weeds.

Is Jury Duty Real or Fake?

Jury Duty is an American docu-comedy that stars James Marsden. It chronicles a fake and comedy-riddled trial in Los Angeles. Some parts of Jury Duty are scripted, some parts of it are improvised, but everything that happens is planned.

However, one of the 12 jurists doesn’t know that the court case is fake. Ronald Gladden, a solar contractor from San Diego, believes that he’s in an actual trial with actual people. So from Gladden’s perspective, the jury and court case are real. During the filming of this comedy series, Gladden believed he was in a documentary. 

Therefore, Jury Duty is real from Gladden’s standpoint, but fake for the rest of the cast. This program constantly blurs the lines between what’s authentic and what’s artificial.

Is Jury Duty Good? Or Is Jury Duty Bad?

It’s worth noting that critics were originally divided on whether Jury Duty was successful in bluring the lines between reality and fiction. While plenty of folks loved it, a very loud minority of reviewers thought it was cringe. Overall, this series has had a polarising history, to say the very least.

Which brings us to one person who enjoyed this program, Rendy Jones. He even stated as much in a review he wrote for Roger Ebert.

“The crew finds a nice balance between throwing Gladden off his game and never positioning him as the butt of the joke,” stated Jones. “No mean-spirited malice is ever directed towards him by anyone, as he often laughs at the mild silliness thrown in his direction.” 

“The further the trial strings along, the less the style embodies the constructs of a prank show, and the more it becomes like an NBC workplace sitcom about eccentric jurors.”

Yet, on the other hand, Charles Bramesco roasted this shindig in The Guardian. He even gave it two stars.

As Bramesco said, “The production crew went to great lengths to preserve their ruse, sequestering eventual foreperson Roland and his fellow jurors for weeks… Yet their all-in commitment on making this odd experiment work often supersedes the cause of being funny, its novel gambit in service of gags not necessarily bettered by their unwitting straight man.”

So, in conclusion, is Jury Duty real or fake? Well, it’s a bit of both.

But is this series any good? That’s for you to decide.

Related: Order in the Court — Here’s a List of Jury Duty’s Cast

Related: Pulling Off a Season Two of ‘Jury Duty’ Would Be Tricky

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