Do any of you remember The Court or First Monday? If not, we don’t blame you.
These shows were two very short-lived television dramas about the U.S. Supreme Court. They focused on the weighty issues presented to the Court, as well as the interpersonal relationships between the justices and the law clerks.
Judicial groupies were thrilled to see two shows about the Court on national television (despite the many inaccuracies and ridiculous plot lines). But their joy was fleeting.
“The Court” and “First Monday” crashed and burned, and both were canceled before finishing a single season. While they were popular with Supreme Court clerks that Term, who would get together for weekly viewings in each other’s apartments, a viewership of 36 isn’t enough to sustain a TV show.
Undeterred by the failure of these ventures, Hollywood is placing another bet on One First Street. From the Hollywood Reporter:
A headstrong female defense attorney, Supreme Court clerks and hospital nurses are at the center of three one-hour pilots that have been given the green light by Fox….
Supreme Courtships, from 20th Century Fox TV and Adelstein Prods., is a comedic drama about the personal and professional lives of six Supreme Court clerks and their supervisors.
Gary Tieche (ABC’s “MDs”) wrote the script and is executive producing with Marty Adelstein and Michael Thorn.
We hope that “Supreme Courtships” takes off; we really do. We adore Supreme Court clerks and everything about them. We worship the ground they walk upon, and we follow their triumphs as closely as Page Six follows Lindsay Lohan’s misadventures.
But we don’t think we are the typical television viewer. And we have serious doubts as to whether this show will connect with an audience.
A book project focused on the courts and on law clerks, a la the forthcoming Chambermaid by Saira Rao, is something that can succeed. Readers of books are more high-minded and culturally sophisticated than viewers of television; TV is called “the boob tube” for a reason. Also, it’s much easier to employ a niche marketing strategy when selling books.
But television is much more mass-market than book publishing. The demographics are different, and the appeal needs to be broad. And we fear that the fabulosity of Supreme Court law clerks will be lost upon the typical TV viewer. To the contrary, the typical TV viewer may be more like the party guest in this anecdote (a true story):
A law clerk to Justice Kennedy attends a party in New York. He starts chatting with another guest, and the inevitable “So what do you do?” question surfaces. The law clerk identifies himself as a clerk to Justice Kennedy.
Almost immediately, the other party guest
tries to escapeexcuses himself, saying he needs to “refill his drink.” As he leaves, he tells the AMK clerk: “Good luck with your clerical work!”