After much fanfare in the mediation community when it premiered, including plenty on this blog, there’s been little mention of it. I caught up with more Fairly Legal episodes over the weekend and realized why. Mediation provides a nice setting for the show, but there little mediation going on. Like many other tv shows it manufactures false drama and too much of it. In the season finale Kate Reed, the show’s protagonist has her typical day, which plays out like this:
- She tells her ex-husband (maybe they’re just separated) that she’s pregnant (he’s the dad) after she takes a pregnancy test. Oh, he receives a big award (he’s an Assistant DA), but she walks into the ceremony when he’s all but finished with his acceptance speech,
- She is ordered to mediate a parking dispute b/w 2 brothers who yell at each other all the time, and if she doesn’t get it settled, a judge who is her nemesis, will toss her in jail for contempt – the case gets settled after lots of arguing (whew!),
- The State Department gives her name to the Croatian consulate, which asks her to mediate a grandparent abduction of her grandchild from a soon to be adoptive dad – the case gets settled (whes!) after she pulls a fire alarm at the consulate to keep the adoptive dad from creating a scene. No irony there. She receives a fine for the false alarm. Btw – there’s lots of arguing,
- She is fired from her law firm by her trophy wife step-mother (dad died just before the premier), who is the firm’s managing partner and another nemesis, due to insubordination among other things,
- She tells her ex-husband that she is not pregnant after all, just as he was going to say that they should stay married (get re-married?), and he leaves her because she doesn’t have enough time for him but has enough time to mediate all the dumb cases (my nice paraphrase) that come her way. It’s unclear whether she heard something from her doctor’s office about the pregnancy, which is forshadowed at the beginning of the episode
If she doesn’t have high blood pressure already, I see a heart attack in her future. Note to the writers – focus the show on one mediated dispute and stick to it. It’s a tried and true formula.
There’s an old joke that the public didn’t understand what mediation is because there are no tv shows called “The Mediator.” As we retire this joke, I present the new updated version. . . . . Too bad there are no mediation shows on tv. . . . Just flew in from Vegas, boy are my arms tired. Ba-dum-bump-chee. I’ll be here all week, and don’t forget to tip your server.
As someone who watches enough bad tv already – Teen Mom, NCIS, Bones, I Used to Be Fat, This Week with Christine Amanpour – I feel no need to add another weak show to my plate. There are no redeeming qualities other than continuously stating that litigation is more expensive than working it out. One other good aspect is being able to see attractive actors on my tv set, which is different from most tv shows (not!). All-in-all, it’s too bad because a mediation show could be good. Also on the good side is that there’s no real harm in the show – unless you consider mediator settlement proposals or making parties sit in a room alone for hours or a lost hour to be harmful.
But now I want to know if she really is pregnant or not. I can’t be hooked, can I?
PS – There was a mediation during an episode of Teen Mom. Guess what, they didn’t show it and the parties barely talked about it after it happened. Their focus was the resulting custory agreement. Good for them.
Last 5 posts by Art Hinshaw
- Mediator Horror Stories - January 15th, 2015
- Carrel - ADR as First Career Video Blog Update - December 11th, 2014
- Srikanthiah and Martinez - Applying Negotiations Pedagogy to Clinical Teaching: Tools for Institutional Client Representation in Law School Clinics - December 9th, 2014
- Carrel: Yes, Please – Can Improv Improve Responses to Ethical Dilemmas? - December 3rd, 2014
- My New Favorite Academic Article - November 26th, 2014