The strongest female lead on television has been there for 19 years: Judith Sheindlin. Judge Judy earned its highest rating in 11 years to begin February sweeps, according to TVNewsCheck, and the show was recently renewed through 2017, with good reason. "Sheindlin hears and protects the reasonable American's notion of justice," Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza writes in Pacific Standard. Sheindlin is beloved especially by older women, African-Americans, and Latinos; it's tempting to think she's "most popular with those who feel most disenfranchised by our legal system."
But it's more complicated than that. Viewers connect with Sheindlin personally, considering her "a real-life kind of superhero." The cases she handles—minor small-claims disputes—resonate with Americans' daily lives. "Who hasn't had an unreasonable landlord they wished to have exposed and penalized?" On Judge Judy, "viewers who will never read a court transcript … get to hear a real-time approximation of judicial reasoning" and come away believing that courts can right wrongs and protect us, "perhaps the most basic foundation of an organized society." Click for Buckwalter-Poza's full column.