Next week’s discussion: Hell’s Satans, Season 1, Eps. 1-5, 7-8. Watch it on Tubi TV.
This week your intrepid hosts return to the courtroom for the show Judge Faith. We go into an in-depth discussion of several episodes, often directly comparing the show with our previous venture into courtroom reality TV, Divorce Court, which we discussed back in Episode 5.
We discuss the commonalities in structure between the two shows as well as their shared strange tonal variation, while remarking on the considerable differences, such as Judge Faith’s more distant and legalistic temperament and the more substantive ways in which this show actually interacts with the legal system. There is also quite a bit of discussion about issues of socioeconomic class and education and how the ‘informal agreements’ common among the American ‘underclass’ are a poor fit for our legal system. We end with a discussion about the problematic nature of ‘law as entertainment’ and the intersection between educational status and legal complexity, with Mike adding a postscript to his critique of how the classist perspective of courtroom reality TV often misses the forest for the trees.
Show Notes and Links
2:45 / Introducing this week’s show
3:40 / The concept of the show (our episode on Divorce Court is here)
4:43 / Mike takes JS for a trip down Memory Lane
6:48 / Our impressions of the host (You can see her Miss America talent routine here)
8:02 / The ‘expert witnesses’ made an impression on JS
8:55 / Mike was struck by the judge’s legalistic demeanor
10:08 / Mike thought her lawyerliness made her seem more distant than Judge Toler
10:59 / Why Mike hoped this would be more interesting and distinct (Judge Faith’s Twitter)
13:13 / What stuck out to JS from Episode 1
14:33 / Episode 2 – eviction dispute
15:41 / This episode had quite a bit of legal explanation
16:40 / The tonal variation of the show – this episode was much more realistic
17:23 / The motif of ‘informal agreements’
18:45 / Claimants often come from the lower socioeconomic strata
19:31 / Discussing the case ruling
20:28 / The difficult situation of the claimants
21:43 / Episode 3 – a serious look at a light-hearted matter
22:45 / Crossover exposure for the show LA Hair
24:40 / The economics of court TV payouts and reputational hits
26:20 / Blowing over the laptop case from Episode 4
29:29 / The plaintiff stood out for being a ‘doctor’ (but not a real doctor)
31:06 / A brief aside on demographics of the claimants
31:44 / Discussing the legal merits of the ruling
33:21 / The difference between arbitration and regular court
34:20 / Episode 7 – thefts and theatrics
35:12 / How much was the laundry case choreographed?
36:40 / The humorous tone of this episode
37:07 / The (possibly dubious) ruling; Mike mentions kabuki theater
39:01 / The second half – possibly sponsored by Nutri-Bullet
40:48 / Episode 8 – accident claim dispute
41:33 / The most interesting and realistic case
42:37 / Discussing the complexity of the ruling
44:00 / The show’s weird use of ‘my friend’
44:24 / Episode 9 – tent revival in a courtroom
45:12 / The class and educational background of the claimants
45:41 / This episode seemed like a weird outlier to Mike
46:38 / Did the actual case even matter?
47:30 / This episode seemed to be a strong reflection of what this show’s target audience craves; Mike mentions Tyler Perry
48:53 / Mike briefly goes over the ID theft case in Episode 10
50:43 / The problematic nature of ‘law as entertainment’
51:58 / JS compares this style of show to the ‘CSI Effect’
53:03 / Is there any potential redeeming educational value to courtroom reality TV?
54:18 / The educational episodes seemed few and far between
54:51 / This show engages more directly with the legal system than Divorce Court, which might give it more potential to mislead the average viewer about the realities of the court system
55:30 / Does the inherent complexity of law subtly bias the legal system against those less educated?
58:32 / JS argues that the legal system does attempt to take into account those issues
1:00:35 / Does the law have potential to alienate poorer citizens who rely on ‘informal agreements’? Can the complexities be fixed or is it just the nature of the beast?
1:01:54 / The law is often complex because society is complex and human relationships are complex
1:02:53 / A brief aside on class issues and the show’s ‘law-and-order’ perspective; Mike compares the ID theft case in Episode 10 to the Equifax breach (Mike didn’t mention his similar critique in the Divorce Court episode, but consider this a coda)
1:04:53 / JS wraps up with some reflections on how his barometer has changed