The ratings for Paternity Court continue to climb, and DDC provides the DNA testing to Judge Lauren Lake for her to share with the families. The shows pack a hefty dose of background, emotion, and drama into 30 minutes. And Lake and her team have found a smart way to present the paternity case to the audience, and a growing audience for 3 years proves she’s going something right.
If you watch daytime television, you know that a lot of “judge” shows have come and gone. Each tries to spice up every day situations, but few succeed. It takes a balance of the litigants search for resolution, the right “cases”, and a judge that appeals to the audience. Apparently the viewing public likes all three for Paternity Court!
The shows are shot in Atlanta, where Lake resided until the late 1990’s. She now lives in Atlanta a few months out of the year to film several episodes a day, and 115 episodes per season.
The subject matter is the same—clearing up family relationships with DNA Paternity Testing—but the stories and the drama are unique every time. Which is why DNA Paternity testing seems to be such a winner on TV. Maury has risen to the top of daytime circuit for over a decade, and features DNA testing & drama nearly 3 days a week!
Lake has a unique way of preparing for a show. Rather than read all the details of a case, like she could (it’s given to her in a 4 page summary), she intentionally does not know all the history, and lets it unfold naturally. In his article “‘Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,’ shot in Atlanta, keeps growing in its third season,” Rodney Ho describes her strategy.
“She is given a four-page summary of each case but she doesn’t read it thoroughly. Rather, she uses it as a point of reference. ‘My executive producer is always in my ear if there’s a point in the story they want me to address,’ she said. ‘My instinct is to research and read every single thing but [the executive producer David Armour] likes it better when I’m on a fact-finding mission on air… I have not made a pre-judgment and I don’t know the results ahead of time.'”
“Every case is a brand new family,” Lake said, in her robe, minutes before she started a shoot in July. “The energy I give is often a catalyst for them. I want them to understand their story is important. For many of them, this is the first time they are really telling their story. They had been arguing back and forth in this dysfunctional state of denial, shame and animosity.”
The drama is perfect for the TV audience, in that all the history is detailed in under 25 minutes, culminating in the DNA results. Therefore the audience is never left wondering—the results are in! The only thing left is to see the guests’ reactions, and they are real. Lake also reports back on former cases, to see how the guests are moving on with their new family dynamic.
If you like real drama in small doses, Paternity Court is for you.