A couple of months ago, during a TV lull, I sat down and watched Judge Judy. Now, I'm about as much a fan of judge shows as much as I am of watching Jerry Springer announce the name of the baby daddy while two women get into a fistfight over the loser. But for whatever reason, that particular day, Judge Judy was on and I watched.
Of course I'd seen Judge Judith Sheindlin, one of the highest paid women in television, in interviews on The View and 60 Minutes, and though I admired her longevity and the fact that she looked like a tough cookie, I'd never actually watched the show.
Was it an eye opener!
Part of what was most shocking was:
- How many people don't listen.
- How many people can take 2 + 2 and come up with 6.
- How many otherwise normal people lose all manner of common sense when money is involved.
- How many otherwise normal people lose all manner of common sense when love/ex-love is involved.
- How many otherwise normal people don't in any way, shape or form want to take responsibility for their actions.
For example, there was the guy whose mother bought him a car even though he had a suspended license and no insurance. His girlfriend took over title of the car on the understanding he would keep up the car payments. He didn't, so she took the car back. He was suing to force his girlfriend to give him back the car, even though he had a suspended license and no insurance.
Judge Judy ripped him a new one for thinking he could drive around illegally with no license or insurance and that she would rubber stamp his illegal behavior by giving him back the car. She told him when and only when he had a valid license and insurance, she would hear his case. Until then, "Goodbye!"
Then there was the guy who had eight outstanding warrants because of traffic fines. When he finally was arrested, his girlfriend bailed him out by paying the fines. She was suing him because she wanted her money back. His defense? He never wanted the girlfriend to bail him out. He was fully prepared to do his six months in jail and not pay the fines.
Judy said that since he wasn't in jail and since he hadn't paid the fines, he owed his girlfriend the money for his fines.
As you can tell, there are a lot of cases involving cars.
All this watching of Judge Judy has taught me quite a bit. Here are the 10 lessons I've learned from my new TV hero:
1. Straighten Up: When you appear before Judge Judy, stand up straight, take your hands out of your pockets, speak only when spoken to, and remember "Um" is not an answer.
2. Bring Proof: You can say until you're blue in the face that your former best friend/boyfriend/ex-husband stole your heirloom bracelet your grandmother gave you, but unless you saw him do it or he confessed to it on tape, you have no case.
3. A Loan is not A Gift: When one person claims another person didn't pay back their loan, expect the other person to defend themselves by saying it was a gift. Also expect that the "gift" recipient is lying. There are very few people out there who can afford to or want to give "gifts" of $1000 or more.
4. Ladies, Keep Your Purses Closed: If you're a woman, never, ever put a new car in your name for your boyfriend. Ever! Yeah, he says his credit is bad and he'll keep up the car payments until he can put it in his own name, but it never, ever happens. EVAH!
5. Guys, Beware of Scorned Women: On the flip side, if you're a guy, never, ever trust your girlfriend not to repossess your car if you've been paying on it faithfully but she gets pissed at you because the engagement ring you got her was too small.
6. Leases Exist for a Reason: When renting an apartment or room, always, always have a lease. That whole, "We all knew who was supposed to pay what" excuse won't fly.
7. Yes, You Are Reponsible: If your 17-year-old son steals your car keys at eleven o'clock at night to take out his 14-year-old sister for a driving lesson and she then slams into a neighbor's car, don't try to say you're not responsible for the car repairs because the neighbor's car was sticking out of its parking space by about a foot.
8. Money Can't Buy You Love: If you've been out on two dates with a guy and he starts talking about how his credit is bad and he needs money to buy his dream car and he needs help to do that, get up and run like the devil is chasing you to the nearest exit.
9. Don't Start Fights: If you go to someone's house to pick up a friend at a party that you weren't invited to, don't go inside and pick a fight with the host, then try to claim that she started it.
10. Don't Lie in Court: If your dog goes missing and you take three weeks to report it missing, you can't then sue the woman who found the dog, got him medical help -- including having him spayed -- for lost breeding fees because you supposedly wanted to breed the dog.
If you'd like a bit of Judy wisdom off the bench, here she is in a video that's part of the Archive of American Television series:
- At MamaPop: "Judge Judy vs Tabatha: Battle of the Battle-Axes"
- At Socialite Life: "Love, Live, Learn Your Judge Judy-Isms"
- Judging Judge Judy
- At TV Share Online: "Are You A Reality TV Junky?"
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video.. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Reviews.
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