Without Prejudice on GSN

Now I remember what got me thinking about blogging about TV. About 2 weeks ago I watched the series premiere for this new show on Game Show Network (which is now just called "GSN," by the way). Which makes me wonder, are they planning to move away from showing Game Shows? Kind of like how they say Kentucky Fried Chicken started calling itself "KFC," when they stopped using real chicken? (And, therefore, the urban legend went, couldn't use the word "Chicken" in their name.)

Anyway, the show was called Without Prejudice and it was somewhat interesting for a trial lawyer to watch.

So, here's the concept. There's 5 people on a "jury" and there's 5 contestants, vying for $25K. Not much, I know, but then again, they don't have to do much. The jury's job is to choose which of the 5 contestants will get the money. They are not supposed to judge based on who needs the money the most (so it's not a contest of "who is the neediest,") and the one question they're never allowed to ask is, "What will you do with the money?"

Round One starts off with the 5 jury members evaluating the 5 contestants solely on the basis of seeing a short video of each of the 5 contestants in which each contestant just introduces himself by name and where he is from. Based on that alone, the 5 jury members have a few minutes to discuss the contestants, and then they have to vote 1 off.

It's kind of interesting what the jurors think they can make of someone in that less than one minute clip. Some of the comments are "He doesn't look like he needs the money," "He seems creepy," and even one guy who just comes out and says, much to the surprise of the other jurors, "I don't really like that contestant because I don't really like Black people." Wow.

Just think, that's how the panel is sizing up my client as they walk in the room. Before they even sit down.

Left with 4 contestants, the jury then watches a slightly longer clip from each contestant solely about their backgrounds. For example, in the premiere, one young man reveals that his mother raised him, and that his father was shot when he was young. Others talk about how they were raised, or where they went to school.

Now, with slightly more information, the jurors discuss the contestants again. There is a "host" to the show, a psychologist who leads the discussion with useful questions like, "Why do you say that?" and "How does that make you feel?" She also tries to redirect the conversation when it goes astray.

One interesting "twist," is when the jurors learn a little about the contestants based on a "moral dilemma." For example, in this episode, before the taping began, each contestant was caught on hidden camera as they saw another "contestant" (actually an actor that they think is another contestant) "steal" a few hundred dollars by not reporting it when they are overpaid for their expenses by the show. Every contestant told the show staff member when asked, but one female contestant tried to cover for the thief a little bit by saying something like, "Oh, I don't think she did it on purpose. She probably didn't realize."

One young male contestant calls one of his boys on his cell phone to say, "Whoa, I just saw this girl, she totally just stole that money."

And, he actually got slammed by the jury, who thought it was an immature move that he needed to call his boy to help him deal with the dilemma.

The jury votes to eliminate another contestant.

Next they hear from the remaining 3 contestants in a video about how they live now, mostly what they do for a living, but also about their family lives and whatever else they do.

In this round, one man states that he works as an actor in the "adult entertainment industry." More specifically, he's a porn guy.

One of the jurors states, "Porn ruins lives," and votes to eliminate that contestant. Another juror says, "good for him." Ultimately, that contestant is voted off immediately after this revelation. But we also learn that he makes a heck of a lot of money, so he doesn't really need the $25K.

The next round requires each of the contestants to answer questions about hot button issues like affirmative action and gun control. One of the jurors continuously says, about almost everyone, "I think he (or she) could be gay."

Finally, when it is down to only 2 contestants, the jurors get to meet the 2 remaining contestants and ask their own questions (anything but "What will you do with the money?"). And then they have to vote between the contestants.

After they ultimately choose someone, they get to hear from both of the final contestants what they will (or, from the loser, what they would've done) with the money.

It wasn't the most riveting show ever. It was also a 1.5 hour premiere, so I don't know if it will be better when they boil it down to a one hour show. But I thought it was interesting to see how quickly people think that they can size someone up.

It's also good reality check, as a lawyer, that jurors are always being told "Don't prejudge the case," but knowing that the reality is that humans are always judging one another.

I just wish my clients would watch the show. Maybe then they'd think twice before, I don't know, fighting with their girlfriends or spanking the bejeezus out of their children in front of the courthouse as all of the potential jurors stream in, ready to be selected for my client's assault case jury.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting hearing your point of view as an attorney. It's an interesting show. I was skeptical at first, but the show is intriguing.

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  2. I'm watching the boiled-down show right now, and frankly I don't find it believable. How did they find these people. For instance, why would a porn star who makes ~$180,000 a year volunteer to tell people about his lifestyle for a (very slim) chance at $25,000? I don't disbelieve that people can be this prejudiced, but even the displays of prejudice seem unrealistic. For instance, it was hard to believe that the Polynesian man in the purple shirt would say he didn't like the black contestant based simply on his race. First, there was another black man on the panel! And even someone ignorant enough to be racist should be smart enough to realize that his racism isn't going to convince other panelists who didn't already dislike the man. Anyway, the show is interesting, and your observations that people react and judge unreasonably are certainly correct. But I don't believe the show.

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