Judge Judy Makes Me Feel Better than Everyone Else

Watching Judge Judy is not educational in any sense that you're walking away with more legal knowledge. What it does do is to reinforce the concept that many, many people in the world are not very educated. The stakes of the cases are low--no one is coming into the courtroom to settle a domestic violence case or to get custody of children. They revolve around three main topics: damage to a car, rental property disputes, and troublesome animals. Often, the two plaintiffs are former friends or ex-partners or tangential family members like mother-in-laws. On the whole, they are often arrive to court unprepared, like they forget the promissory notes or the photos of the smashed in headlight, or the pit bull's papers, imagining that they can just tell their side and the judge will believe them. I wonder if anyone has ever done a socio-economic study on the participants, because many seem to fall on the lower scale and others are in some way gaming the system (seemingly able bodied people receiving disability assistance, men trying to hide income form their soon-to-be ex-wives, 32 year old students who haven't worked or actually taken a class in twelve years and receive welfare checks). So, like, you never see a doctor on the show suing her neighbor for wrecking the car or a business person asking that his roommate pay him back for the broken coffee table.

But I think what I find most satisfying about the show is that calls people on their b.s. And it never feels wrong, because the ones she lambastes appear to be liars or thieves---you don't often see her coming down hard on a person who is organized and straight-forward, but she sure as hell torches those who can't get their stories straight. So, you get to watch the bad guys get fined for hiding the money or the angry girl made to pay the $3,000 for smashing in a stranger's windshield and you don't have to feel torn or ambiguous about it.

This is what happens when you live in New Jersey. You spend so much time in your car, getting angry at people for bad driving, that a show about poorly educated people with bad tattoos who make poor life choices becomes a source of welcome release.

In case you want to read what the NY Times thinks about her, here's a link to an article about the show and her durability (and likability off screen).