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You the Jury cancelled, guilty of being terrible

You the Jury cancelled, guilty of being terrible
Attorney Joe Tacopina on Fox's You the Jury. (Photo by Fox)

Fox has effectively cancelled its low-rated Friday night faux courtroom, pretend trial show You the Jury after just three episodes. The show has been removed from the network’s Friday night schedule after just three episodes, and will be replaced by Lethal Weapon reruns.

Its ratings were low: The “three episodes averaged a 0.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 1.7 million viewers (and that’s with lifts from live-plus-3 Nielsen ratings),” The Hollywood Reporter notes.

I’m amazed that many people were able to tolerate its aggressive stupidity.

The attorneys were aggressive and aggressively stupid, and the format couldn’t decide if it was a talk show with overly produced packages (litigants walking down the beach, gazing out toward the water, trying hard to emote) or a serious trial with consequences.

The attorneys’ presentation felt simultaneously overdramatic and underprepared, like they were reading bullet points while auditioning for a high school play. Witnesses just stood up and talked; closing arguments were delivered by the litigants (what?).

Meanwhile, the in-studio jury was obnoxious, responding to the most banal of claims as if they were earth-shattering by laughing or clapping from the dark shadows on the periphery of the dark studio. I wanted to vote against them.

All of You the Jury seemed like an exercise in pointlessness. And the entire point of the show—the “jury”‘s vote—seemed to have no impact at all. After the few viewers who were watching and bothered to vote weighed in, a verdict was delivered—and the show ended. There were never clear consequences, perhaps because there were none.

Why care? At least American Idol’s votes had an immediate effect. At least litigants on Judge Judy get the satisfaction of having Judge Judy beat up their opponents, regardless of how the case shakes out.

The big-picture format—take daytime courtroom shows and make them bigger, with audience participation—seems like a good idea on paper, but just doesn’t seem to be able to work. 

Besides FOX’s failure here, in 2015, NBC bought a different but almost identically named show, Law and Order: You the Jury, from Dick Wolf and Magical Elves. That show was actively being developed but never even made it to the air. 

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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