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ABC's Judge Steve Harvey is a genius idea

  • "Despite the innate absurdity of the project—mainly in that Harvey is not a judge nor has any legal experience—his entry into the ecosystem of network court shows is an undeniably astute move," says Kyndall Cunningham of Harvey's new ABC judge show. "For one thing, the last five years has seen the arbitration-based genre become increasingly dramatized." Cunningham adds: "The most accurate description of Judge Steve Harvey is that it’s a continuation of the self-help portions of his previous NBC talk shows Steve Harvey and Steve, with a dose of rowdy church service energy. The extremely self-aware, comedy-infused show opens with Harvey strutting down a sidewalk in a snazzy trench coat before he enters the courthouse, 'where common sense presides' in lieu of any professional bona fides on his part. Accordingly, the show brazenly forgoes the formalities and procedures of a courtroom at every turn, from Harvey’s flashy entrance and exit through automatic sliding doors, his choice to don a black suit instead a judicial robe, the presence of an emcee, and an uproarious audience that looks like they’re watching a stand-up act. At one point in the first episode, Harvey even leaves the bench to give a motivational speech on the main floor. In his career as an author, radio host, and his later television gigs, Harvey has assumed the role of the seasoned Black elder with an unsurpassed understanding of relationships and a strong business acumen, whether he’s instructing single women to think like men to sustain their marriages or telling his talk show audience that they can’t sleep more than eight hours a day if they want to be rich. Of course, like most self-help gurus, his counsel is loaded with basic truisms and implements a bootstrap ideology. And his romantic and family advice often veers into religious, patriarchal terrority. Nevertheless, both viewers who take his word as bond and those who enjoy poking fun at him on Twitter will get a kick out of watching Harvey offer the most simplistic life advice and arbitrarily award plaintiffs money with his signature self-anointed authority."

    TOPICS: Judge Steve Harvey, ABC, Steve Harvey