Ordinary Joe: Way Leads on to Way
September 20, 2021 8:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

After his college graduation, Joe Kimbreau is faced with a pivotal decision that steers his life down three drastically different paths.

TV Line - NBC's Ordinary Joe Premiere: Grade the 'What If...?' Drama Starring James Wolk

The Hollywood Reporter review - The drama weaves together three parallel life paths — nurse, cop, rock star — for Joe Kimbreau, an indecisive New Yorker played by James Wolk.: "For the terminally indecisive, NBC’s Ordinary Joe has to be either the most or the least appealing premise ever cooked up for a TV show. On the one hand, the hourlong drama posits that a single decision as seemingly inconsequential as who to grab dinner with on a given night could set the course for the rest of a person’s life. On the other, it suggests there are no real right or wrong answers — and that, in any case, the fates have a way of circling back to the same people, the same plots, the same worries about work and romance and parenthood and the same heartfelt themes about the beauty and unpredictability of life."

Variety review - ‘Ordinary Joe’ Delivers James Wolk Three Times, Trying to Capture ‘This Is Us’ Magic
posted by oh yeah! (4 comments total)
This was a miss for me. I'm not sure the 'Sliding Doors' scenario is workable in tv-series format as opposed to film. Though, I guess that's not completely true, because I was all in for Jason Isaac's "Awake" -- but in that show the lead was aware of his being split between 2 realities. Whereas this show has no genre hook, and so seems like it will just meander around/wallow in angst and melodrama.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:40 PM on September 20, 2021

Right now, the best think I can say about the show is Wolk has REALLY good hair.

My mother said, "I'd watch any ones of these three shows, but it's too hard to keep it all straight according to whether he's wearing glasses." She's 85, but she's right. I kept thinking, who is he, Clark Kent?

I had to keep reminding myself that everything that happened prior to him walking one of the quad paths was set in stone, so of course all three versions of Jenny were pregnant. No wonder she didn't go to law school. But it doesn't make sense that just because he went to graduation dinner with his family that he wouldn't have gone to the shore with her afterward, or talked to her again (like, ever?) in his cop version.

I felt like I had to make a chart: OK, the kid is Chris in the nurse version, Lucas in the cop version, and "small, so small" in the rock star version. When he's a rock star, he's with Amy but his friend seems nervous; when he's a cop, his friend has a baby but no wife; when he's a nurse, his friend is rich and with Amy.

All the "parts" are interesting: his BFF Eric, the two women, his father's legacy, his mom, his uncle. It makes sense that the women in his life would have different paths; if he picked Jenny then of course he'd introduce his friend to Amy. But the other changes to Eric's life seem oddly dependent upon Joe. Maybe that's a reflection on Eric saying that he'd made all of Joe's decisions for him since they were 13. Or not.

But one thing confused me, and that's the guy who tried to shoot/shot the politician. In the cop version, Joe shoots him; in the nurse version, he's trying to save the politician's life instead. But what was going on there in the rock star version? Joe was happily singing on stage and Uncle Frank (obviously Joe's security manage) got this look on his face, and I thought I saw the shooter approaching the stage, but then nada. What did I miss?

Finally, I know I'm only one episode in, but thus far, I'm Team Jenny.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:26 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved Wolk in HBO's Watchmen, but the ads for this show were like televised treacle. And if it's in the vein of This is Us -- which gave me diabetes after watching 5 minutes -- I don't think I could take it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:03 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

But what was going on there in the rock star version?

Somehow because of Joe's concert, the rally was a different night. So the politician didn't have a rally, didn't get shot. (But doesn't he still have an angry would-be assassin in that version?)

I'd joked on Twitter that NBC had a bad record sticking with genre shows like this. I was thinking of Journeyman, and now oh yeah! mentions "Awake," though that lasted longer.

I was irritated by Rockstar Joe's selfishness, in regards to his wife, ex-girlfriend, and newly discovered son. He's pushing a woman who just had a miscarriage to get pregnant again right away, didn't seem sorry for what the girlfriend went through alone*, and wants to track down a 10 year old who's been adopted. (And being rich, he probably could do it, even if records were sealed.)

* It also seems unrealistic that even if he'd immediately dropped his close female friend after graduation, he wouldn't have heard something about her over the years. Even her comment about his life seeming perfect "from the magazines" was old-fashioned. Is this a reality where there isn't social media?

I watched the show September 23rd, which is my birthday. So the 923 jumped out at me. I wondered if that's going to be a recurring number, or could have been any number,, as long as we understood everything was happening at the same time.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2021

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