Judging Amy is an American legal drama television series that aired for six seasons (19992005) on CBS.
After her divorce, attorney Amy Gray (Amy Brenneman) and her young daughter move back into her mother's house in Hartford, Connecticut, and Amy becomes a family court judge. Amy's mother Maxine (Tyne Daly) is a social worker who holds herself, as well as everyone else — especially Amy — to her perfectionist standards. Since Amy is a family court judge and Maxine is a social worker, they occasionally cross paths professionally, sometimes creating discord that spills over into their personal relationship. Amy and Maxine are both single and interested in romance. Amy's introspective, younger brother Vincent (Dan Futterman) is a writer, while her older brother Peter (Marcus Giamatti), an insurance salesman, and his neurotic wife Gillian (Jessica Tuck) frequently drop by.
This show is about as complex as it gets without being a Mind Screw...
This show has examples of:
- Adoption Is Not an Option: Initially enforced by Gillian. Her refusal to consider adoption drives a wedge between her and Peter, and she spends a few nights at Maxine's away from him. In a rare aversion of this trope, she changes her mind after she reads Vincent's short story about a woman neurotically obsessed with getting pregnant... and it's a comedy.
- Byronic Hero: David MacClaren, Amy's Love Interest in later seasons. There is the tragedy of his wife's death (she was murdered and the case went cold) and he has the whole Tall, Dark, and Handsome thing going.
- Courtroom Drama: Amy is a judge at Connecticut's family court. She makes a name for herself because of her unusual methods and somewhat weird sentences.
- Disappeared Dad: The patriarch of the Gray family died several years previous to the pilot, and Lauren's father sometimes ventures into this territory.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In one episode, a boy was brought in to Amy's court after calling in a bomb threat at school. However, his father was a soldier and he was born in Afghanistan. Since citizenship is passed through the mother, he is officially an illegal Afghani immigrant and could be deported if convicted of a felony. Later, in a Loophole Abuse-filled conversation about a theoretical boy from "Sweden," she is told that if he is deported back to "Sweden" with no family or support system, he'll likely be placed in the military. All because he wanted to get out of a test. Amy takes a third option by sentencing to probation for 364 days, since only sentences of over a year are required to be reported.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted in the season 4 episode "Roses & Truth", where Amy has a case of a high school student who slept with his teacher and got her pregnant. At first the boy was charged with rape, as the teacher alleged he forced himself on her. The boy's defense, however, showed that the teacher was the sexual predator by bringing in another victim to discuss his relationship with the teacher. It was treated with the seriousness it deserved and even the teacher's husband looked at her with disgust when he heard the second victim's claims.
- Emotional Torque: The whole darn series. It doesn't screw so much with your brain as it does your emotions.
- Epunymous Title: Judging Amy. Her name's Amy and she's a judge. She's judging others as it's her job, but also she's being judged by others.
- Exact Words: In "Roses & Truth", the prosecution is objecting to a surprise witness the defense showed up with feeling they deliberately withheld the name to prevent possible discrediting. Amy gets the prosecution to agree that it was the act of possibly hiding the witness he didn't like rather than hearing from the witness that angers him, giving her no objection to hearing the witness on the stand.
- Genius Ditz: Donna. She is Amy's court clerk. She's very eccentric and clumsy. Donna is a genius (for example, she finishes her law degree in one and a half years) and socially awkward. She gives birth in a plastic pool in Amy's (her boss!) living room.
- The Joy of X: Several episodes have titles with this ever so popular and fun naming pattern:
- "Sex and the Single Mother" (Sex and the Single X)
- "Romeo and Juliet Must DieWell, Maybe Just Juliet" (X Must Die)
- "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Family" (The Un-X-able Y-ness of Z-ing)
- "Sex, Lies and Expedia.com" (Sex, Lies and X)
- "Last Tango in Hartford" (Last Tango in X)
- Old Friend, New Gender: In the "Slade's Chophouse" episode, Bruce looks forward to a visit from his old friend, Father Ted. Bruce is rather surprised that he goes by Teresa now and is in town for the final surgery.Amy: Thought you'd be shorter... and a guy.
- Positive Discrimination: It's doubtful that Bruce's statements in one episode about disagreeing with the idea of interracial families would have been presented so sympathetically if he were white.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Amy as a judge. Maxine once encourages a lawyer to stick with Amy rather than seek out another judge as Amy will be sure to rule a fair verdict. Another case that stands out is a desperate single mother who stole food to feed her three children. Her kids are supposed to be put to foster care. The mother argues that it's unfair because foster parents receive generous financial benefits which would help her to care for them, too.
- Maxine is a very competent social worker with deep understanding of her clients, including abused kids and troubled teens, struggling parents or foster parents.
- Ship Tease: The kiss Amy and Bruce share in the interim of not being coworkers.
- Threat Backfire: A slimy lawyer helps his abusive foster client parents get off on charges by threatening judges with past rulings that make them appear to be racist, sexist, etc. He tries it on an elderly female judge by making it sound like she's racist on Latinos for past rulings and she holds him in contempt. As he's handcuffed, he presses on how this could damage her career...only for her to fire back there's no career to damage as this is her last day and "who cares about the opinion of a retired judge?"