Jury Duty Is an Inexpensive Streaming Hit For Amazon’s Freevee

Amazon summoned a streaming hit with Jury Duty. The multi-camera courtroom comedy, which has been available to stream on Amazon’s Freevee since April, is reportedly “on track to be one of the biggest half-hours in the history of either Prime Video or Freevee,” according to reporting from Vulture. The FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) service formerly known as IMDb TV is perhaps best known for its reality court show Judy Justice, but Freevee has entered the original comedies streaming space with the crime comedy Sprung and the coming-of-age dramedy Primo, produced by Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creator Mike Schur.

“That show costs $2 million an episode,” a top packaging agent familiar with TV budgets told the outlet. “Well, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power costs $50 million. You tell me where they’re going to go next.” (According to Vulture, an Amazon spokesperson disputed the fantasy series’ reported per-episode budget as being “way off.”)

The significantly smaller-budgeted and “genre-bending” Jury Duty is a docu-style comedy from the producers of The Office, Bad Trip, and The White Lotus. It chronicles the inner workings of an American jury trial through the eyes of one particular juror, Ronald Gladden: a solar contractor from San Diego, California. What Gladden doesn’t know is that the entire case is fake, everyone except him is an actor, including James Marsden, and everything that happens — inside the courtroom and out — is carefully planned.

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 when Freevee premiered the free-to-stream series. “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.”

Eexecutive producers Lee Eisenberg (WeCrashed, The Office) and Gene Stupnitsky (Hello Ladies, The Office) co-created the series that also counts Schulman (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Br?no, Who Is America?), Ruben Fleischer (Superstore), Cody Heller (Dummy), Nicholas Hatton (Borat 2), Jake Szymanski (The Package), and Andrew Weinberg (Great Minds with Dan Harmon) as executive producers.

“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, said in a statement. “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.”

Audiences have been pleasantly surprised: Jury Duty sits at 74% approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, where the average audience score is 97%.

“What interested me 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,” said Marsden.

Marsden (X-Men, Sonic the Hedgehog) stars as an alternate version of himself alongside an ensemble cast of comedic actors that includes Alan Barinholtz (History of the World: Part II), Susan Berger (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Cassandra Blair (Hacks), David Brown, Kirk Fox (Reservation Dogs), Ross Kimball, Pramode Kumar, Trisha LaFache (Westworld), 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 (Suits), Maria Russell, Ishmel Sahid, Ben Seaward, Ron Song, and Evan Williams.

All eight episodes of Jury Duty are available to stream now on Amazon’s Freevee.