FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- "If The Grinder were a Limbo dancer, it could probably glide under the pole with only two inches of clearance," says Nader Anise, National Director of ALPIA (American Lawyers Public Image Association). "That's how low programming about lawyers has sunk with Fox's newest legal comedy."
The premise of the premiere episode is disturbing because it implies that courtroom lawyers need only demonstrate a healthy dose of theatrics, with a few canned lines thrown in, in order to win. Dean Sanderson (Rob Lowe's character), an actor who had a lengthy stint on a freshly-cancelled lawyer show in Hollywood, comes back home to Boise, Idaho and schools his kid brother, Stewart (a real lawyer played by Fred Savage), on the art of courtroom lawyering.
Anise says, "What's offensive is that Stewart, the one who's supposed to be the actual lawyer, is portrayed as being a bungling idiot who never leaves home without his index cards, which prove useless anyway." During trial, Stewart is hopeless and incompetent. It isn't until his actor-brother, Dean, pulls off a stunt that would make My Cousin Vinny proud that things finally turn around, and Stewart wins the case.
"Viewers are left with the impression of, who needs a law degree to be a lawyer? A few acting lessons or some reruns of Law & Order should do the trick," Anise says sarcastically. This sends a very dangerous message about what it takes to be a lawyer.
Anise adds, "We have to remember that the general public, by and large, receives much of its education on lawyers and the legal process from the TV and movies. Networks have a responsibility to offer programming that's both entertaining and void of storylines that undermine the profession. A show like The Grinder makes lawyers look overrated and interchangeable. It's offensive to lawyers who spend years honing their craft. Comedy is one thing, but a poke in the eye of lawyers is another."
"We will continue to do whatever it takes to stand against the negative portrayal of lawyers," Anise says firmly. "ALPIA's flagship initiative, National 'Love Your Lawyer Day,' which this year falls on November 6, asks the public to celebrate their favorite lawyers with cards and gifts and to abstain from tasteless lawyer jokes. We'll also talk about the importance of fair and accurate programming out of Hollywood."
It's unclear which direction The Grinder will take in upcoming episodes. "I certainly hope Stewart gets his act together and relies less on his non-licensed brother. I'm not holding my breath though," Anise says smiling.
ALPIA is the American Lawyers Public Image Association, founded in 2000. It is the only legal organization in the world formed solely to promote a positive public image of lawyers. ALPIA is the leader on attorney image issues and has received media coverage from all over the world. The website is www.alpia.org.
Nader Anise., Executive Director
SOURCE American Lawyers Public Image Association