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Legal advice for TV shows

How many times have you sat down to watch a TV show and say to yourself, “These people are idiots – even I know that [fill in the blank] will never work!”

Web Watch sees this all the time, where some character goes on and on about some topic that Web Watch happens to know everything about, and the writers just get it all wrong!

We get it – TV is meant to be entertainment, but sometimes some basic research can make the script just that much more believable to those of us at home who actually do know what we’re talking about.

Big Bad-Ass Book of Bar Bets and Drinking Games: Hundreds of Tricks and Tips to Keep the Party Going
Big Bad-Ass Book of Bar Bets and Drinking Games:
Hundreds of Tricks and Tips to Keep the Party Going

Web Watch has a number of lawyer friends, and they get all bent out of shape when watching legal programs for exactly that reason — the law can be a very funny, specific thing, and people believe what they see on TV as being real — so they often turn to the “hey, I saw this on TV” excuse to try to explain why what they’ve come up with is reasonable or not.

That’s the premise behind the THE LEGAL GEEKS – that TV characters are just stupid, and it takes a lawyer (who is also a TV geek) to really lay down the law for the rest of us.

Seriously? Grey’s Anatomy doctors would never be able to get away with half the stuff they do if they were working in a real hospital.

So let’s take a look at one piece of analysis that The Legal Geeks ran through: whether a BAR BET AT CHEERS would be valid and held up in a court of law:

The premise?  That CHEERS bar owner, Sam, would be able to marry Jacqueline Bisset within a year.  If he failed, then he has to give the bar to Eddie.   Here’s what The Legal Geeks concluded –

  • Bar bets are not enforceable or collectible in court.  Besides, Eddie wasn’t offering anything for his side of the bet.
  • You can’t sign a contract while intoxicated
  • Bets made in writing are always better than verbal ones
  • Sam had to marry Jacqueline Bisset, actress, to win the bet.

You can do this with any show.  For example, is the BIG BANG THEORY’s Roommate Agreement enforceable?

What are some legal items you question when you watch your favorite TV shows?