'Made in Jersey' Review: A Blow to Legal Dramas and to New Jersey
'Made in Jersey' Review: A Blow to Legal Dramas and to New Jersey
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We all think that everyone from New Jersey is like the people we see on The Real Housewives and Jersey Shore, right?

The new CBS legal drama, Made in Jersey, is based on this premise. And that's exactly why the show does not work.

Made in Jersey tells the story of Martina Garretti (Janet Montgomery), a brilliant lawyer working in a high-end Manhattan law firm. But -- oh no! -- she's a Jersey girl. Martina's snooty colleagues look down on her, because her accent obviously marks her as an idiot. Martina doesn't care though, because she's a sassy girl from Jersey! She just makes friends with the working-class secretaries instead. At the end of each workday, Martina goes across the water to her large, very loud New Jersey family, most of whom can't understand why such a nice girl didn't just become a hairdresser.

But then Counselor Garretti shows them all by cracking the toughest of legal cases! Intriguing, right?

To give Made in Jersey what (little) credit it deserves, this is not a hopeless show. There is a lot of talent in the cast, for one thing. The show's star, Janet Montgomery (a British actress who nails the Jersey accent), plays a very likable, believable young woman who got to the top through intelligence and hard work. In the law firm, we get lawyers played by Kyle McLachlan (Twin Peaks and so much more) and Stephanie March (Law & Order: SVU -- but she left the show after the pilot). Actors like these can make even their "I know best because I do not have a New Jersey accent!"-style lines sound almost believable.

Unfortunately, even talented actors have to work with what they're given. In the case of Made in Jersey, they are given broad stereotypes and ridiculous cases. There is, for example, a scene in the pilot in which Martina comes up with a crucial argument based on beauty-salon tips (think Legally Blonde) while an entire room of colleagues openly sneers at the idiot from New Jersey.

This is not to say that Made in Jersey is unredeemable. If the stories can move away from the easy use of tropes and toward a genuine show about a brilliant lawyer from a slightly different background, Made in Jersey could be a fun legal drama. Considering that the show airs on Friday nights on CBS, such changes could create a hit.

Will that happen? Alas, there isn't much indication of it from the pilot episode. And that's too bad -- both the state of New Jersey and the TV-viewing deserve better at this point.

Made in Jersey premieres on Friday, September 28 at pm on CBS.

(Images courtesy of CBS)