Courtroom reality TV shows have been a staple of daytime television for over 25 years. Today, there’s Judge Mathis, Judge Jerry, Judge Joe Brown, Divorce Court, Hot Bench, and The People’s Court just to name a few.
And a new one recently joined their ranks in 2022: Judge Steve Harvey. I’ve asked several people if they’d heard about it – and been on the receiving end of some rather confused looks. “Like Steve Harvey the comedian?” “He’s a judge now?”
Yes, and well, sort of yes.
Take a show like Judge Judy and insert Steve Harvey’s condescending comments and judgemental looks in exchange for the annoyed little Jewish lady. These are not legally questionable cases. (Thank goodness as Harvey is neither a judge, nor has he any legal experience.) These are simple arguments that require a cool head and some common sense to solve.
Instead, audiences get a wise-cracking Steve Harvey.
Fortunately, the parties involved in each dispute go into this “courtroom” knowing that they’re not there for a real legal discussion. In fact, I’m sure they prefer it that way. After all, ABC and the production company pay all the settlements that are reached.
So nobody really loses. Everyone gets to have their say. And then Harvey carefully explains what kind of morons they all are.
Case in point: A woman is suing her sister for $6000. She’d given her the cash to pay for their brother’s funeral but instead, her sibling skipped the funeral and used it to pay for a Brazilian butt lift. (Seriously. You couldn’t make this up.)
Her defence? “My sister owes me for everything she’s put me through over the years.”
Considering all the shocked and dumbfounded facial expressions that Harvey has perfected while hosting Family Feud over the years, you can just imagine the looks he sends the camera’s way during the so-called “cases” before him.
To be honest, they are funny. Viewers can’t help but chuckle at the participants’ idiotic outbursts or Harvey’s attempts to make them see reason. After all, people are stupid. And those in his courtroom are often doubly-so.
In fact, even Harvey himself laughed outright at one defendant after she “objected” to something that had been said. “You must think this is a real court!” he finally managed between chuckles.
Which is why it’s no surprise that the premiere episode was the most-watched (non-football) show of that week for ABC. It even out-paced the season opener of The Bachelor.
I don’t know how long people will want to watch everyday idiots argue over ridiculous matters. But considering that The People’s Court is still on after a quarter of a century, odds look good for Judge Steve Harvey.
Besides, in a time when the line between real and fake is often lost on viewers, a fake courtroom with a fake judge making common sense (but not necessarily legal) decisions might be just as good as the real thing. Only funnier.