Months after “Jury Duty” unexpectedly stole America’s heart, the Amazon Freevee continued bucking its underdog status by landing four primetime Emmy nominations, a success EP Dave Bernad attributes to the show’s uplifting moments of humanity.
“As we went into COVID, we were in a dark time and the idea was trying to make something hopeful, and specifically part funny that had heart and, most importantly, that highlighted the hero’s journey and the wonderful humanity [that’s] out there,” Bernad told TheWrap. “I think maybe that’s what people responded to in the show, especially in this moment.”
The series nabbed two big scores for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for James Marsden, as well as nominations for Outstanding Casting For A Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, cementing Amazon Freevee as first free AVOD service to receive a major series Primetime Emmy nomination.
While Bernad noted that the show “potentially could have been a limited series,” he credited the Amazon team for a choosing the “perfect strategy” for “Jury Duty,” saying “we felt like this would give us the best shot to get nominated.”
Bernad added that “Jury Duty” might have stood out to viewers by blending traditional sitcom storytelling and tropes with a live element as non-actor Ronald Gladden reacted in real time to the planned shenanigans.
“What we’re trying to do is revitalize the sitcom and do a different take on a sitcom,” Bernad said. “This was never meant to be a prank show — It was always meant to be a sitcom, where you have a real person who’s kind of involved with the storytelling and witnessing a live sitcom … How do you push both genres — the sitcom genre … and reality storytelling — further?”
Bernad also credited comedians like Sacha Baron Cohen, Nathan Fielder and Eric Andre for pioneering the combo genre that mixes comedy with live reactions, pointing to successes like “The Rehearsal” and “Who is America?”
“It feels organic, and it feels alive in a way that sometimes scripted television doesn’t, and that gives you the best of drama and comedy — anything can happen in woman and that’s why I love the genre,” Bernad said. “All of these people before ‘Jury Duty’ really helped influence the show.”
Submitting “Jury Duty” in the comedy series also avoids closing the door on the potential for a second season, an attitude that Bernad shares as well.
“Obviously [amid] the WGA strike, we haven’t really spoken about it,” Bernad said. “We’ve been so focused on the release of this season of ‘Jury Duty’ and [putting] it out there as best as possible. So who knows? You never know. But we’re just thrilled with how well ‘Jury Duty’ did and just the recognition we got today.”