“Jury Duty,” the upcoming docu-style comedy series starring James Marsden as himself, explores truths stranger than fiction when one unsuspecting juror is put in a courtroom of actors for a fake case and a faker documentary.
Marsden leads the “Truman Show”-style misadventure, playing a version of himself who tries – and fails – to get out of his civic duty when the judge fails to recognize him as a public figure. In the first trailer for the Amazon Freevee series, which dropped Tuesday, other characters are seen pushing the envelope of what’s acceptable behavior in the literal court of law – while real-life juror Ronald Gladden goes about his duty being none the wiser that everything is staged.
Coming from the producers of “The Office,” “The White Lotus” and “Bad Trip,” “Jury Duty” is just the latest comedy series to blend genres of reality and scripted, following in the steps of Sacha Baron Cohen, Nathan Fiedler and others. The series premieres April 7 with its first four episodes; two new episodes will then be released each Friday until the finale debuts April 21.
“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 center of the show who doesn’t realize he’s surrounded by actors?” executive producer Todd Schulman said in a statement. “We honestly had no idea but when we pitched it to Freevee we pretended like it was a sure thing. Thank God we pulled it off.”
“There are no guarantees but there’s ambition, creativity, pure comedy, and the desire to do something different but with great care. That’s what drew us to this wildly inventive idea from this incredible group of producers,” Lauren Anderson, head of AVOD Original Content and Unscripted Programming, Amazon Studios, added. “How does one respond when the most outlandish moments happen in something as seemingly mundane as jury duty? We hope audiences are pleasantly surprised by what they see and delighted by what the show says about humanity.”
Of his experience on the series, Marsden shared that what interested him “was the challenge of creating a hero’s journey for someone who has no idea the world around him was completely manufactured 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.”
Co-starring with Marsden on the jury and elsewhere in the courtroom are Alan Barinholtz, Susan Berger (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Cassandra Blair (“Hacks”), David Brown, Kirk Fox (“Reservation Dogs”), Ross Kimball, Pramode Kumar, Trisha LaFache, Mekki Leeper (“The Sex Lives of College Girls”), Brandon Loeser, Edy Modica (“Made for Love”), Rashida “Sheedz” Olayiwola (“South Side”), Kerry O’Neill (“Murderville”), Whitney Rice, Maria Russell, Ishmel Sahid, Ben Seaward, Ron Song and Evan Williams.
David Bernad (“The White Lotus,” “Bad Trip”), Lee Eisenberg (“WeCrashed,” “The Office”), Ruben Fleischer (“Superstore”), Nicholas Hatton (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Who Is America?”), Cody Heller (“Dummy”), Todd Schulman (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Brüno,” “Who Is America?”), Gene Stupnitsky (“Hello Ladies,” “The Office”), Jake Szymanski (“The Package”) and Andrew Weinberg (“Great Minds with Dan Harmon”) executive produce the series. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky co-created the series, Heller serves as showrunner and Szymanski directs.
Watch the first “Jury Duty” trailer in the video above.