Focusing on Important Matters: Professor Kim Krawiec, Judge Judy, and Jon & Kate Plus 8

For years, I harbored a secret: I watched Judge Judy on television. I would tape Judge Judy (4 p.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday), and I would watch the tapes while I cooked dinner. The t.v. show was an amusing diversion with just enough intellectual demand to engage my brain while still leaving free the vast majority of my firepower to grapple with whether I could substitute powdered garlic for fresh without sacrificing taste.

I no longer watch Judge Judy, but I have to say that I am not sure I would have gone public about even my former fondness for Judge Judy had Duke Law School Professor Kim Krawiec not first pulled the trigger and ‘fessed up here. (Professor Krawiec’s shocking admission is in the first comment listed on the web page.)

The reality is that I, a former clerk for two very well regarded federal judges, always felt a bit embarassed about watching a t.v. show where the judge would regularly yell at the litigants “Speaking. I am speaking” when litigants interrupted her. Yet the show was so funny that I could not help myself. Seriously, does everyone in the world except me purchase cars sight unseen with “As Is” purchase contracts without first having the cars checked out by a mechanic?

So now I am wondering – does Professor Steve Bainbridge watch Judge Judy? How ‘bout Blog Emperor Paul Caron? Professor Gates? Perhaps now is the time for cathartic admissions by everyone. The truth shall set us free! (For the record, Professor Kate Litvak does not watch Judge Judy. I know this for certain because I recall Kate telling me once that she does not watch television. You heard it here first.)

Since we are on the topic of shameful television, perhaps I should ask the more important question: Who among us is intending to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 on television tonight when the new season resumes? (While I am unfortunately familiar with the show as I watched re-runs while packing for my visiting stint at Boston University, I can say for sure that I have no plans to watch the show ever again.)

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Jon & Kate Plus 8 is a hugely (inexplicably, in my view) popular reality t.v. show, chronicling the lives of two thirty-ish parents (Jon and Kate), their twins, and their adorable sextuplets. While the show was initially an innocent, family friendly program, the Jon & Kate show took a turn several months ago, as Jon and Kate battled rumors of drunken scandals, a sham marriage, college-aged paramours, outrageous filming schedules, etc.

For much of May and June, even the mainstream media was regularly covering breaking Jon & Kate news, and, in late June (I think), the sad truth that Jon and Kate were filing for divorce finally surfaced. While I would not normally pay attention to anyone’s divorce, the lead-up and public speculation surrounding this reality t.v. debacle was such that I have to admit reading the articles recently detailing how the situation resolved. (Kate filed for divorce; Jon is dating the daughter of Kate’s plastic surgeon.)

I rue the portion of my short term memory that I wasted on Jon & Kate Plus 8 while packing for Boston, but I cannot help ask: Kim Krawiec, do you have a view on Jon & Kate Plus 8? Do you have a view on the child labor issues raised when children film reality t.v. for many, many hours per week? If it seems that a reality show is tearing apart the marriage of the parents being filmed, should the television network halt production, even if they have a contract binding the parents to continue filming?

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2 Responses

  1. A.W. says:

    mmm, first i didn’t watch jon and kate because the sight of 8 children running wild made me break into the cold sweats.

    now i don’t because bluntly, we are contributing to the disintegration of that family.

    i’m not saying its all TV’s fault, but it contributed, and the reason people are watching now is out of sick voyeurism

  2. Kim Krawiec says:

    lol. Great post! Two confessions: (1) Judge Judy is probably not even the worst show that I watch, and (2) I had never heard of Jon & Kate until my students brought in clips for our “taboo trades & forbidden markets” class last semester. Since then, of course, it’s hard to miss news of them unless you live under a rock (although I’ve still never seen the show). You should do a full “guilty television secrets of law professors” post next. I want to see what other confessions you can get out of people.