There have been a lot of controversial – or at least eyebrow-raising – concepts presented in reality series over the years. Some of the most discussed include CBS’ “kids run a town sans adults” series Kid Nation, the “ugly people fix their problems by becoming pretty” Fox plastic surgery series The Swan, and MTV’s Teen Mom franchise, which many argue actually encourages teen pregnancy. One of the most ridiculous concepts actually only lasted a single episode, that being Fox’s Who’s Your Daddy, which challenged adopted contestants to figure out which of a group of men was their biological father, with a cash prize at stake.
While not necessarily serving as reality series in the traditional sense, another long-standing TV tradition is the televised court show, in which a civil trial plays out on the air. The show that established this type of series was The People’s Court, presided over by recently deceased judge Joseph A. Wapner. There has since popped up a veritable cavalcade of such programs, with arguably the most notable being daytime juggernaut Judge Judy, which has made the titular judge a multi-millionaire many times over.
Now, Deadline reports that Fox is set to combine the primetime reality competition format with the stakes of a daytime court show, in the form of upcoming series You the Jury. Hosted by Fox News personality – and former daytime judge – Jeanine Pirro, You the Jury features real civil court cases being argued by recognizable attorneys, with viewers voting on the verdict live as the show airs. A short trailer for You the Jury can be seen above.
Each episode of You the Jury will focus on a case concerning a current hot-button issue, “such as online trolling, the limits of free speech, and the constitutional clash of gay rights with religious freedom.” As if that weren’t enough to court controversy, You the Jury’s cache of well-known lawyers include Jose Baez – who defended the infamous Casey Anthony against the murder charge that she was ultimately acquitted of – and Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of young black shooting victims Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
While it’s important to note that the verdicts determined by You the Jury aren’t expected to be legally binding, the concept itself is a fair bit dystopian, and seems like something that would be more at home in The Running Man’s universe than reality. Plus, should these cases ever go before an actual jury, one wonders if those folks will be at all swayed by what they might have seen on TV. You the Jury seems specifically designed to get people talking, although not necessarily in a positive way.
You the Jury premieres Friday, April 7 at 9pm on FOX.
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