Once we Night Court-ed all we could Night Court, we migrated from the courthouse to the adjacent bar, Whiskey Tavern, where we made friends with two of Manhattan’s finest, Vinnie and Joe (yes, those are their actual names). They were dressed in layman’s clothes and were the ones who clued us into the type of patrons that prevailed. “Do you know what we do?”, asked Vinnie. “This is a cop bar.” After getting over the immediate terror of this discovery, we got into the spirit of new experiences. We had some drinks and shared some laughs, we took photos in the photo booth, they gave us their business cards, and, finally, we called it a night.
Giddy on justice (also, beer), we adieu’d into the Chinatown night, wondering about the fate of the many cases we’d seen earlier. Would the swipe seller cause a stir again at his rescheduled arraignment? Which drug distributor would skip town and forfeit their exorbitant bail? Did that guy actually shit himself???
Court shows train audiences to believe that there is an essential Truth or Good, which can be uncovered by a righteous judge and a handful of ethically unimpeachable, policy-snubbing lawyers (and, of course, the "I hate lawyers" lawyer-types.) But stripped of all of its musical cues, its carefully placed flashbacks, its Jack McCoys, court is a marshland of uncertainty, dejection, excitement, and downtime.
What Night Court lacked in the comforting closure of a TV drama, it made up for in uncensored, unpredictable rawness. The ways in which the real thing departed from a casual scroll down a Netflix "true crime" sub-genre page are the very reasons you should go. It's entertaining, but it's also unsettling, provocative, and demanding of a level of thoughtfulness that can't be achieved by anything but reality, no matter how good the script.
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Laura Reilly is a production assistant at Thrillist. Subtweet her at @asapreilly and give her a reason to go back to court.