The surprise TV hit of the year has to be Jury Duty, Freevee’s odd yet hilarious hybrid of reality TV and mockumentary. The show, about a real-life “normal” person named Ronald Gladden who doesn’t know the jury and trial he is involved in is nothing but an elaborate ruse, has quickly gained a cult following online, and more and more people are discovering just how funny and charming it is.
The show is so good that many people opt to binge all of its eight episodes, which leaves a vacant hole in their TV viewing schedules. If you’re one of these people, then relax as we’ve crafted a guide to watching similar shows like Jury Duty. From a beloved NBC sitcom starring Amy Poehler to an obscure British comedy that pioneered the prank-as-a-TV-show format, these shows and movies will satisfy Jury Duty fans looking for more awkward laughs and characters you won’t ever forget.
Trial & Error (2017-2018)
Haven’t heard of Trial & Error, a short-lived NBC sitcom from just a few years ago? Don’t worry, almost no one else has either. The show shares many similarities to Parks and Rec: a mockumentary format, this time spoofing true crime shows; a charming cast of small-town do-gooders who work in government; and a colorful cast of guest stars, with Andie MacDowell, John Lithgow, and Kristen Chenoweth. Each of the show’s two abbreviated seasons concerns separate murder trials; the first concerns an eccentric poetry professor (Lithgow) accused of murdering his wife while the second trial focuses on the murder of the town’s kooky heiress (Chenoweth).
It’s a shame more people don’t know about Trial & Error because, like Jury Duty, it’s a rare comedy that is both equally funny and charming. The show’s main lead, Nicholas D’Agosto’s hapless defense attorney Josh Segal, is just as engaging as Jury Duty‘s Ronald, and the supporting cast, in particular, Lithgow, Chenoweth, and Sherri Shepherd as a chronically sick researcher, is every bit as inviting and memorable as Jury Duty‘s is. Even though it ran two seasons, Trial & Error only lasted 26 episodes so it’s a relatively quick watch.
Stream both seasons of Trial & Error now on Prime Video.
Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)
Take away the reality TV aspect from Jury Duty and what do you have? A mockumentary workplace comedy about the inner workings of government. Sound familiar? Parks and Recreation aired on NBC from 2009 to 2015, resulting in 126 episodes about the inner workings of Pawnee, Indiana’s parks and recreation department. In case you don’t already know, Amy Poehler stars as Leslie Knope, the department’s deputy director and unofficial cheerleader for all things related to small government. Rounding out the cast are The Last of Us‘ Nick Offerman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Severance‘s Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, and Retta.
Like Jury Duty, Parks and Recreation utilizes the mockumentary format, with characters frequently talking to the camera. In addition, the series mines humor from its frequently absurd situations in and out of government, such as Leslie’s weekly town hall meetings, a field trip to a popular restaurant, and a telethon that goes horribly wrong. Both shows are essentially sweet by nature, and its cast of characters is so fully realized, you have fun just by hanging out with them.
Parks and Recreation is streaming on Peacock.
Space Cadets (2005)
Described by some as the most elaborate and expensive hoax ever in television history, Space Cadets has a great hook: Nine British people are selected to train in Russia for a chance to travel to space. Once they pass preliminary tests, some real and some invented for the show, three of the top cadets are then selected to venture into outer space. Of course, this was all an elaborate prank, with the contestants training at an airfield in Suffolk all dressed up to look like it was in Russia. Nobody was ever going to go to space, and all the training exercises were designed for maximum comedic effect rather than for any practical purpose.
Like Freevee‘s Jury Duty, part of the fun of Space Cadets is seeing the process of how this elaborate ruse is laid out. The space cadets in question are frequently faced with outrageous scenarios, like having to deal with rampaging monkeys invading the spacecraft, or larger-than-life characters, like an RAF squadron leader who speaks very slowly and has an overgrown handlebar mustache. Jury Duty may be a bit more subtle, but it’s still fun to see “normal” people believing they are in a real situation when you as the viewer know it’s all fake from top to bottom.
Space Cadets isn’t available to stream, but you should watch the half-hour documentary about the show on YouTube.
The Joe Schmo Show (2003-2004, 2013)
Remember Spike TV? Back in 2003, Paramount made the bold decision to revamp their dusty cable channel TNN into Spike TV, which was actually marketed at the time as “The First Network for Men.” In addition to such lowbrow TV programming like Stripperella, an animated series starring Pamela Anderson and Mark Hamill, and Ride with Funkmaster Flex, the network was known for The Joe Schmo Show, a reality TV hoax show that ran for three seasons. In each season, the central conceit stayed the same: one person believes they are starring in a reality show when, in reality, they are surrounded by actors all playing reality TV archetypes like “The Smarmy Host” and “The Rich Bitch.”
Similar in concept to Jury Duty, The Joe Schmo Show is far more crass and mean-spirited. Unlike Jury Duty‘s central courtroom location, each season’s general setting and theme would change over time. Season 1 was a collection of reality TV stereotypes while season 2 spoofed dating shows like The Bachelor. When the show was revived in 2013, its focus was lampooning bounty hunter series like Dog the Bounty Hunter. Crude and rude, The Joe Schmo Show is worth a look if only to appreciate Jury Duty‘s gentle humor even more.
You can rent or buy The Joe Schmo Show season 3 on Prime Video.
Sex Drive (2008)
Under normal circumstances, it may be odd to recommend a movie called Sex Drive to Jury Duty fans. In almost everything, from format to tone to subject matter, the two have nothing in common with one another. Yet fans of the show know Sex Drive is one of Ronald’s favorite films, so much so that he brings a copy for James Marsden, a fellow “juror,” to sign. That he does so without embarrassment or shame is one of the show’s off-kilter highlights; James is just happy to have a fan, and Ronald is equally enthusiastic he gets to interact with the stars of one of his favorite movies.
Sex Drive is a typical teenage comedy from the 2000s, one steeped in crude jokes, potty humor, and lecherous shots of young females wearing scantily clad clothing. The plot is (surprise!) pretty simple and stupid: a shy teenager, Ian, and his best friend Lance steal Ian’s older brother’s GTO to meet up with his online girlfriend to lose his virginity. Wacky antics ensue, including a stopover in Amish country and a climactic encounter with Fall Out Boy. Yes, this movie is severely of its time, but it’s worth a look for Marsden, who plays Ian’s boorish older brother. With frosted tips and a borderline manic gaze, Marsden’s go-for-broke performance provides the movie with enough energy to get you by the now-outdated pop culture references and misogyny.
Like Jury Duty, you watch Sex Drive for free with ads on Freevee.