Vice presidential candidate turned national sideshow Sarah Palin is reportedly developing a new unscripted series in which she would "preside over a planned reality court show."
That's right: Sarah Palin wants to be your next Judge Judy.
According to People — which cites a "source close to the process" — the Montana-based production company Warm Springs is working to bring Judge Palin to your daytime television schedule by fall 2017. As described, the project sounds like a fairly typical daytime court show: Palin would preside over a plywood-paneled courtroom while people argue their cases for her inevitable judgment.
People has already tried to address the obvious question raised by this news, namely that Palin does not have a degree that would qualify her to be a judge. The magazine explains:
Palin does not have a juris doctor degree. But the source notes that the bestselling author has a variety of other qualities that make her perfectly suited to the job.
"Palin's telegenic personality, wide appeal and common sense wisdom make her a natural for this kind of format and she was Warm Springs' top pick for this project."
We could mock this "qualification" — and many already have — but you know what? Besides Palin's "common sense wisdom," People's unnamed source isn't that far off from what people want out of their daytime television.
Sure, Judge Judy and some of her contemporaries like Judge Joe Brown have law degrees and handle real lawsuits, making their shows "arbitration" courtroom shows. But others — for instance, everything out of Entertainment Studios, like Justice for All With Christina Perez and America's Court With Joe Ross — present fictionalized versions of cases, the better to capitalize on their dramatic potential.
But whether a given case is real or not, it's arguably more important for a TV judge to be compelling than it is to have legal expertise; to many viewers, court shows are less about the letter of the law and more about injecting a boring morning with splashy conflict, preferably settled with the declarative bang of a gavel and satisfied voiceover. Whatever you think of Palin's politics, it's hard to deny that she's managed to parlay her personality into a sustained national interest in her life and particular way with words, even though she's long since abandoned politics for Fox News punditry and reality TV appearances.
In fact, Palin's entire persona these days is about rendering judgment, whether it's on the "lamestream media" or the "establishment" trying to bring down Donald Trump. Exercising what influence she has to draw strict conclusions on what she finds objectionable is exactly what Palin loves to do; why wouldn't she try to leverage that love into a job where she literally gets to judge people?
Also: Palin's journey as a reality television star has been a steady march to this point, and this news was a long time coming. If you don't believe me, ask 2008-era Saturday Night Live, when Tina Fey as Palin predicted her own future. "Either I’m runnin’ in four years," Fey said in Palin's Alaskan drawl, "or I’m gonna be a white Oprah."
Becoming a reality show judge isn't quite analogous to becoming Oprah, but it is, at the very least, a means of imparting advice to lesser mortals from on high.
So while Palin might be a few years late on the timeline SNL set for her, we can't say we weren't warned.