In the final episode of Jury Duty, the cast and crew take the time to walk unknowing hero Ronald Gladden through the production behind everything he just experienced. He’s still in disbelief even as the hidden cameras and fake sets are revealed and actors share their real names, unable to take it all in. But it’s now been more than a year since the series was filmed, and Gladden is back to reflect and reveal even more behind-the-scenes secrets alongside director Jake Szymanski and stars James Marsden, Mekki Leeper (Noah), Cassandra Blair (Vanessa), and Maria Russell (Inez) for Jury Duty Exclusive Cast Commentary episodes.
The episodes are available under the “Extras” tab on the Freevee series page — and yes, that’s all eight episodes of the original series, now complete with audio commentary. The banter among the cast is reason enough to watch and listen, reminiscent of old friends reliving their glory days together and joking about old memories. But there are also plenty of revelations that change the context of the entire series.
For one, Gladden admits to being a huge Parks and Recreation fan, making Kirk Fox, who played Sewage Joe on Parks and Recreation and a juror on Jury Duty, a potentially major giveaway — it was one of the details that people on social media couldn’t get over. To make Fox less recognizable, they made him grow a beard and placed him as far away from Gladden as possible in every scene they shared. On the commentary track, Gladden often stops to deeply sigh and lament that he didn’t recognize Sewage Joe.
And there were many other close calls that almost blew production’s cover, especially in the courthouse, which was actually an abandoned courthouse doctored up to look like it was still in use. But little else in there was real, including the cash register at the snack counter — had Gladden ever gone over and tried to get a treat, the actor playing the cashier would have floundered trying to complete a real transaction. In the trial’s final days, Gladden discovered a fake book in one of the interview rooms. But in a testament to how real the cast and crew made the rest of his experience feel, Gladden said in the commentary that he brushed it off as a failure of the courthouse, not the entire process.
For as many things that were fake, there were just as many seemingly staged moments that were authentic. One of the most surprising reveals was that Leeper vomiting was completely real. During the Margaritaville scene, it was written that Leeper would be accidentally downing drinks with booze in them despite not being a drinker. Those cocktails were ultra sugary mocktails, and Leeper really did have to chug them all to make his later drunkenness seem real. The sugar proved to be too much for Leeper, and he actually spewed out of the bus window. It took some rewriting on the fly — he was initially supposed to puke during court the next day from being so “hungover” but after getting the real thing, Szymanski decided it wouldn’t be worth trying to fake it.
Then there were the definitely fake things that production wanted to make as real as possible. Two months before filming started, Szymanski added “jorf” to Urban Dictionary, defining it as a secret code for white supremacists to identify each other. When the server (also an actor) looks it up on her phone at Margaritaville, she pulls up the real Urban Dictionary page.
There are other delightful cut bits and details that never made it to camera. Todd (David Brown), for instance, was known by Gladden and the cast to be a convicted felon who was fresh out of prison, and he and Vanessa struck up a romance in the final week of duty. The commentary serves as a reminder that for three weeks, these actors had to be on almost 24/7 and that even the smallest thing being out of place would have ruined the entire production. Knowing even more about how it all came together makes the end result all that much more impressive.
Jury Duty Season 1 and Exclusive Cast Commentary episodes are streaming on Freevee. Join the discussion about the series in our forums.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.