I do not know much about shows like Judge Judy, but I think that television shows such as the various Law & Order and C. S. I. s, Criminal Minds, and The Shield are able to imprint our susceptible psyches. First, for those illicit inclinations, these shows offer details, which some could try to incorporate into their own lives. Most people know these shows do not necessarily reflect a true level of reality, and though low on the scale of possibilities, there must be some criminals who have taken their cue from a television episode.
Whether it be getting an idea for a crime, a method of avoiding detection after the crime, or a legal loophole to avoid punishment when caught, television shows, or pieces of them, can seem factual to some viewers. Secondly, and likely more probable, these shows can impact the way people form expectations of law enforcement officials. Viewers constantly see crimes solved in the course of one hour, even if the show implies days passing, when the reality is that many crimes go unsolved for years, decades, or forever. These shows have DNA tests done overnight when that is impossible.
Trial episodes are often filled with juries being awed, entertained, and wooed by compelling and stylish lawyers while I have yet to meet one in person. And, let’s face it; law enforcement on television is filled with young, beautiful, and engaging folks, while reality is often, and disappointingly, quite the opposite. Law enforcement shows offer a wealth of entertainment. But, they also fill viewers with false expectations of ready and satisfying justice and, for those of a more dubious nature, they may make unlawful actions more appealing.