There seems to be a proliferation of Judge shows on the TeeVee. Thirteen(!) of them, in fact, if the count is right at This Site. And I suspect it may be light. There could be some local Judge shows they don't know about.
Why this fascination by the public with the judicial system? People won't bother to spend an hour or two in a courtroom as a spectator. They do their best to avoid jury duty. They dread being called as a witness. But on the TV, in the safety and comfort of their homes, they seem to revel in the legal issues of others.
When I was a young lad, the only courtroom show on TV was Perry Mason. But, then, a show began that was called Divorce Court. It did not resemble the modern versions. It was more dignified. It was also amazing. At that time, divorces could be contested and marriages would continue if the court ruled so. Imagine that. A judge says "you have to stay married! You have insufficient cause to split up." After all, no bruises, no broken bones, no uncovered sexual liaisons, no criminal behavior... why should the marriage not remain inviolate?
We are much more enlightened today. Now you can get a divorce because the other person snores (are you listening, Pearl?). We have something called Irreconcilable Differences. I think that boils down to "we disagree". And I admit, that is the cause used to get my divorce from my first wife. Adultery, oddly, seems no longer to be a sufficient cause so something else was needed.
But this isn't about my divorce (a truly great story of pathos, passion, near violence, perfidy, and a bit of sloth to be told at some future time when the statute of limitations runs out), it's about legal shows on TV.
Why are they so popular? I think the answer is simple...
They make us feel smart.
Have you actually watched these shows? Most are basically small claims court cases. Petty little arguments over who pays for the dented fender, who repairs the fence the drunken neighbor knocked over, should the jilted girlfriend be allowed to keep the couch she bought when she leaves the guy occupying the (once happy) love nest with his new girlfriend (the tramp!) and so on...
The judge hears the stories from each side, complete with tossed insults and sarcastic barbs tossed back and forth, asks a few pointed questions which reveal even more silliness and misbehavior on the part of both plaintiff and defendant and then rules with common sense with which we, the audience, can all smugly agree.
Coming up tomorrow on Judge Judy:
Case 1 - Strong marijuana, sexual harassment, and goat water come into play when a make-up artist sues the director of an action film set in Antigua for lost wages.
Case 2 - A man is suing a former band mate of his daughter's friend for the return of his music equipment.
Now, this is entertainment. Without all the messy blood and body parts that used to strew the Coliseum back in the heady days of the Roman Empire.
Reserve a place on that sofa and start the popcorn a-poppin'!
A Night Unremembered
7 years ago