Check Out This New Docu-style Comedy on Prime

'Jury Duty' places an ordinary guy in the jury of a trial, not realizing the whole thing is an elaborate prank

Comedy court pranks juror

During the reality TV boom of the early 2000s, an offbeat show emerged that mercilessly mocked the entire genre: The Joe Schmo Show, in which an ordinary guy believed he’d been cast to compete in a Big Brother-style reality series, not realizing his fellow contestants were actually actors, and the whole thing was an elaborate prank. 

A similar premise is at play in Jury Duty, a new “docu-style comedy” from a producing team whose credits include The Office, Borat, The White Lotus and Bad TripJury Duty focuses on Ronald Gladden, a solar contractor from San Diego who’s been called to serve on a jury—or so he’s been led to believe. 

What Ron doesn’t know is the case is bogus and everyone else involved is an actor—right down to the judge, the lawyers, the defendant and his fellow jurors (one of whom is Westworld star James Marsden, playing a skewed version of himself)—with the entire thing carefully staged and manipulated in order to dupe him into believing he’s part of a legitimate trial. “Jury Duty originated with a question: Was it possible to make a sitcom like The Office about a trial, populate it with brilliant comedic performers, and put a real person at the centre of the show who doesn’t realize he’s surrounded by actors?” said executive producer Todd Schulman. “We honestly had no idea but when we pitched it to [Amazon] we pretended like it was a sure thing. Thank God we pulled it off.” 

“What interested me was the challenge of creating a hero’s journey for someone who has no idea the world around him was completely manufactured,” added Marsden, “and whether or not this high-wire act could lead him to unite this family of wonderful weirdos and in the process become an inspiring leader for us all under the process of serving Jury Duty.” 

Jury Duty premieres Friday, April 7