Episode 16 – Judge Faith

 

This week’s discussion: Judge Faith, Season 2, Eps. 1-4, 7-10.  Watch it on Amazon Prime Video. Watch it on YouTube.

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

1:20 / Thankfully Christian numerologists were wrong for once

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

27:18 / JS’s favorite case – the Tinder scam artist (Mike mentions the Cecil the Lion brouhaha)

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

39:56 / The wrinkle to the case – criminal vs. civil

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

1:05:15 / Introducing the show for the next episode; Mike mentions Sons of Anarchy and Jackass

1:06:45 / Our announcements (for real this time): email us, rate/review us, and subscribe

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Episode 6 – Dual Survival

 

This week’s discussion: Dual Survival, Season 3, Eps. 1-5.  Watch it on Hulu.

Next week’s discussion: The Millionaire Matchmaker, Season 5, Eps. 6-11, 13 (+ Season 2, Ep. 6; Season 3, Ep. 3; Season 4, Ep. 8).  Watch it on Hulu.

This week Mike and JS put aside their fundamental differences in podcasting philosophy to make the show’s first foray into the world of survival reality TV – Dual Survival!  (Also, apologies to Cody Lundin, as we repeatedly botched the title of the show in the episode, calling it Dual Survivor.)

We begin with a discussion of the main theme of the show: the two hosts and their different backgrounds and philosophy as they attempt to survive for 72 hours in harsh wilderness conditions, specifically identifying the topic of risk vs. reward as the animating center and attempting to determine how much of a hand the production crew has in determining the level of risk in each of these missions.

We then delve into the individual episodes and talk about particular highlights and themes: the level of choreography versus spontaneity in the scenarios, the level of discomfort and physical risk to the hosts, and the tension between its desire to educate and to entertain.  Mike even included a bonus rant about the media’s coverage of poaching.

Finally, we wrapped up with a discussion on the demographics of the survival TV audience and the overall appeal of this sub-genre of reality TV, rooting it in an extension of the romanticization of the ‘frontier’ in American culture – with a dash of pointless gossip about the behind-the-scenes drama of the survival TV world.

Show Notes and Links

1:30 / Introducing this week’s show

2:08 / Breaking down the high concept

3:18 / Cody Lundin – our barefoot hero

4:08 / Joe Teti – our military badass

5:13 / JS had some prior knowledge of this show

5:44 / How the hosts’ differences defied Mike’s expectations

6:42 / The main difference in the two hosts’ philosophies was risk-reward

7:40 / To what extent are the producers influencing decisions?

8:20 / 72-hour scenarios (Cody Lundin Interview)

10:06 / Mike wonders if the military aspect is essential or an appeal to a demographic for TV

11:30 / JS thinks the military is actually pretty good training for a situation like this, even if not as thorough as a survival school

13:47 / Mike often found the risks that Joe took to be questionable for a real survival situation as opposed to a TV survival situation

14:56 / The choreography of survival TV – what’s spontaneous and what’s being presented by the producers?

15:50 / Mike gives an example of clear producer intervention

18:32 / A clarification on Joe’s background (Military Times article)

19:45 / Many of these clips were re-used for the behind-the-scenes special

20:36 / Each episode is a structured loosely around a background scenario (lost hiker, stranded glider, etc.)

22:01 / The merits (or lack thereof) of drinking your own urine; psychology v. physiology

23:26 / The educational nuggets – ‘Art of Self Reliance’

23:59 / The introduction of risk v. reward – go up for water or go down for better air?

24:57 / A rare instance where Mike found Joe’s risk-tasking realistic

26:14 / JS doubted the authenticity of the poachers

26:49 / Mike’s rant about ‘white savior’ conservationist narratives

27:42 / Poachers (at least those on ground level) driven by poverty and lack of economic opportunity, not love of killing endangered species

28:30 / Mike found Joe’s comments about the poachers insincere (An article on President Dumbfuck’s ‘hard power’ budget, which was mercifully ignored by Congress)

30:14 / JS’s doubts about the genuineness of the poaching paraphernalia resulted from a steady accumulation of disbelief

32:06 / Mike thinks the camps might be legit, but probably had been abandoned for some time

32:34 / Mike thinks the show misunderstands the role of violence in organized crime (Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader For A Day)

34:06 / Discussing the role of safety in the series as a whole

34:51 / A rescue of questionable authenticity

36:22 / JS’s LOL moment

37:05 / Mike compares the hosts to Hollywood stuntmen

38:14 / The main risk is mechanical injury, but not dehydration or starvation

38:40 / Mike found the heightened stakes detracted from the spontaneity compared to less dangerous reality shows like Paris Hilton BFF

40:02 / JS liked the show, would watch it outside the confines of the podcast (Finding Bigfoot without the bullshit)

41:30 / Discussing the hosts’ disagreement over the rotting steer

43:14 / If the lesson was to do something uncomfortable to survive, why not show Joe using the hide?

44:48 / Discussing the boar hunt – in both its authentic and fabricated aspects

46:42 / Mike found the crew’s masculine hero-worship over the top; JS was impressed by the technical skill (our different backgrounds in hunting may have shaped our reactions)

48:25 / Talking about the staged nature of the rescue sections

50:15 / Segueing into the allure of survival TV

50:44 / Mike found the gendered appeal noteworthy in the overall context of reality TV

51:27 / The appeal of survival entertainment to those ‘divorced from the land’ and living comfortably

52:33 / Mike thought the show’s aesthetic would appeal to the suburban/rural over the urban

54:01 / Frederick Jackson Turner – “The Significance of the Frontier in American History

54:36 / The overall appeal of the survival genre – vicariously overcoming physical hardship and adversity; We mention several shows (Man Vs. Wild, Survivorman, Survivor, Naked and Afraid)

55:39 / Discussing the tension between the show’s educational and entertainment mission

59:30 / Cody Lundin’s criticism of survival TV (TV Guide article on Survival TV that Mike mentions)

1:00:20 / The ‘behind the scenes’ drama (Cody’s lawsuit; Joe’s dismissal; other Joe-related lawsuit)

1:02:10 / Mike found it interesting that the behind-the-scenes tension never cropped up in the final product

1:03:33 / Introducing the next show – impromptu style

1:04:36 / Signing off with the usual deal – contact us, rate and review, and subscribe