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Ordinary Joe

Ordinary Joe Series Premiere Review – Way Leads on to Way (1×01)

Ordinary Joe on NBC. Photo Credit: NBC

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The concept for NBC’s new series Ordinary Joe isn’t new. We’ve seen it before on shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Glee, but only as episode-long depictions. However, in the series premiere of Ordinary Joe, we’re thrown into an entire show focused on the concept of “what if.”

Any pilot has the daunting task of properly setting its precedence and tone for the rest of the series and providing enough intrigue to audiences. This is where Ordinary Joe shines. The basic premise explores the main character Joe’s (James Wolk) three potential paths pursuing: a relationship with a new acquaintance Amy (Natalie Martinez), his best friend Jenny (Elizabeth Lail), or neither and choosing a career as a police officer.

The paths, although have separate outcomes, are very much intertwined offering a This Is Us feel. But that’s what I enjoyed the most.

Through voiceovers, we’re introduced to each character. Voiceovers are an interesting touch and seem like a choice made out of ease by the producers so viewers are quickly aware of Joe’s world. Additionally, the mini pauses in the editing seem out of place for a show like this. I would expect it in a comedy like Grown-ish, but in a drama, it’s a bit tacky.

Ordinary Joe Premiere Review

James Wolk as Joe Kimbreau, Natalie Martinez as Amy Kindelán. (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)

Superstar Joe:

In Joe’s ideal life, he’s become the next Billy Joel and marries Amy who’s pregnant with twins. This chapter seems the most blissful. It’s later revealed that Amy and Joe have been trying for years to have a baby, and unfortunately, they lose the twins, prompting a major problem in their relationship.

At the 10-year college reunion, Joe’s reunited with Jenny. They engage in a long-overdue chat where she tells him that years ago she was pregnant with his son and ultimately gave him up for adoption.

Ordinary Joe Premiere ReviewJames Wolk as Joe Kimbreau on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)

Nurse Joe:

The second path shares his life with Jenny. They have a young handicapable son, Chris, and because of their desperate need to fund his medical bills, they’ve settled into careers that make for an unhappy life. Jenny serves Joe divorce papers and gives him 40 days to prove to her that they should stay together.

As an intertwined fate, instead of directly protecting the congressman who’s attacked, he’s the nurse put on the case to save his life.

And as an added bonus, Eric is married to Amy. Both of whom are scheming to get Jenny and Joe’s marriage back on track.

Ordinary Joe Premiere Review

Elizabeth Lail as Jenny Banks, James Wolk as Joe Kimbreau. (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)

NYPD Joe:

In the event that Joe chose his family and followed in his father’s footsteps as an NYPD officer, he’s a single and childless man only growing older, as his mother likes to remind him.

This allows him to make a delayed choice between Amy and Jenny. However, he’s still left to make the same decision as he was dealt 10 years prior.

Ordinary Joe Review

James Wolk as Joe Kimbreau (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)

It’s obvious the scales are tipped in favor of Jenny. In every possible outcome, Jenny’s always a possibility. Their history is extensive and no matter what decision Joe makes, it doesn’t change the fact that Jenny remains pregnant with his son. Now whether or not he will be a part of his son’s life, that’s the biggest question.

What did you think of the premiere? Don’t forget to leave your comments down below!

Stray Musings:
  • Despite the possible divergent paths beginning at the graduation ceremony, there are still endless choices within each storyline for things to go awry proving that life is dependent on much more than a singular decision.
  • I know James Wolk is only 36, but why does he look so old?! It’s almost laughable how unrealistic he looks as a graduating undergrad.
  • The reality of COVID is nowhere near the end, but Chris’s mention of COVID was extremely unexpected.
  • Joe’s reaction toward Jenny putting up their son for adoption was unappreciated. The entitlement he displays is offputting and his disregard for the laws, because he’s a superstar, is a no for me.
Rating: 4/5

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Inga is an avid TV watcher and critic, focusing a majority of her articles around LGBTQ+ representation in the media.

Ordinary Joe

Ordinary Joe Review: Thankful (1×09)

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Ordinary Joe Thankful

In preparation for Thanksgiving this year Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 9,” Thankful,” brought together family in every timeline. While meant to be a joyous celebration, instead caused strife and greater separation among prominent family members. Things are slowly starting to fall apart in every universe, making for a more exciting show.

Trying to find their footing after the scandalous announcement of Amy’s infidelity with Bobby, Joe and Amy can’t seem to find peace of mind. Their interactions remained minimal and strained.

Whereas things have started heating up between the two in the blue storyline. Not only is Amy living with the family, but she’s also invited to the big family Thanksgiving dinner. Where both Amy and Joe are in Uncle Frank’s line of fire for his indefinite suspension.

Ordinary Joe Thankful

Celeste and Joe on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Eliza Morse/NBC)

This rigidity between the three guests is a bit tedious, and until living Bobby is disciplined for his wrongdoings, things won’t speed up. However, Joe’s confession of feelings using the three big words “I love you,” seems to be speeding up his relationship with Amy. Originally, it seemed as though things might fizzle out, but surprisingly they’ve made up for Amy’s past infidelities with Bobby.

I guess things are different for Joe as long as Amy sleeps with Bobby while not in a relationship herself. It’s hard to fault her when Bobby’s the one in the wrong in the blue storyline. We don’t get to see much of Jenny at all during this episode, but specifically, in this blue storyline, she’s left out almost entirely. Aside from the quick moments in the office.

Jenny’s stuck in Atlanta for the holidays, introducing Kinsley, a new character whose job is to help with Chris while Jenny’s away. Though Kinsley’s job is simply to assist, it looks like she might be there to help Joe’s loneliness as well. So, as Joe’s dealing with Amy’s cheating in the other stories, it looks like he might be dabbling in his own in the green timeline.

But, maybe it would be a one for one kind of deal because Jenny’s work bae is making a long pit stop in Atlanta to help with the pro bono case. I’m really hoping this is the writer’s way of leading us down a deceptive path because I’m still rooting for Jenny and Joe!

Ordinary Joe Thankful

Kinsley and Joe on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Eliza Morse/NBC)

Once Jenny reveals to Joe that her son with Ray is in fact his, things will get a bit more interesting. The technicalities of all these political scandals are the show’s current focus, but the meat of the show lies more with the personal tribulations and struggles of the characters.

Speaking of personal struggles, we’re left with a huge cliffhanger. In an unsurprising turn of events, Amy’s pregnant with Bobby’s child. An extra bad omen for Joe and Amy as they were trying for so long to get pregnant. I can’t see this ending well. Joe’s definitely going to have mixed emotions about Amy’s pregnancy. He’s wanted a child for so long, and that’s all he wants, but to have Bobby’s child will only remind him of Amy’s lies.

What did you think about this episode? Please leave your comments down below!

Stray Musings:
  • Gwen is such a mom. The entire family dynamic seemed so wholesome and American family perfection until Celeste came in and blew off the lid. She opened a can of worms that will certainly be difficult to put together. It was hinted at earlier that there was tension with Celeste, and now we’re finally clued in. I wonder if they’ll go more in-depth about Joe’s father.
  • It’s nice to see Eric and Amy happy and in love in the green storyline. They are the sweetest couple.
Rating: 3.5/5


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Ordinary Joe

Ordinary Joe Review: Reset (1×08)

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Ordinary Joe Review Reset

After the heightened finale with Bobby’s untimely death, we’re left behind with the broken pieces on Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 8, “Reset.” Amy’s still withholding her affair from Joe, but Bobby’s late wife wants to air out her grievances.

Now that the show has properly set up its characters and storylines, other characters beyond Joe are seeing their spotlight. This time, it’s Amy. The formula is pretty standard, share a flashback that will provide greater context for a major character trait. While they have the formula down, the depth is missing and that keeps the show lagging behind.

Amy’s history of activism goes back to her childhood and being raised by immigrants, but it’s a bit cheesy. This show seems to fall into its own trap of cheesiness, leaving no room for surprises. Yes, it’s important and wonderful that they shared this current issue of policing and racial profiling.

The struggle in balancing the three storylines is clear, particularly in this hour. With a heavy focus on Amy’s affair, it felt stagnant and many other characters were left out. Including Jenny.

Ordinary Joe Review Reset

Amy and Chris on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Eliza Morse/NBC)Her

Since Jenny’s in Atlanta taking classes, Joe is alone trying to help Uncle Frank back on his feet. It’s endearing seeing Uncle Frank and Chris interact, but until this storyline is given more depth, it felt a bit too shallow. I know it’s not this kind of show, but if it had brought more conflict with Uncle Frank’s return that would’ve been more exciting to see.

Uncle Frank’s alcoholism is explained as a coping mechanism after his brother’s death, and now it’s finally taking its toll. He begins coughing up blood, and Jenny’s father in an act of kindness takes Uncle Frank to get specially tested.

It’s the first time Jenny’s father is humanized, and it kind of came out of left field. Meanwhile, Jenny’s dealing with a rude and obnoxious personality on her own–her professor.

The relationship between her and her professor is tense and there is no backstory provided as to where it stems from, making it feel like a haphazard conflict.

Ordinary Joe Review Reset

Joe and Uncle Frank on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Eliza Morse/NBC)

In the blue storyline, Amy and Joe are continuing their relationship steadily, while their marriage is taking a hit after in the red storyline. At least they’re a happy couple in one of the alternate universes.

Although, Amy’s apprehension around police officers still stems from her childhood and she mentions this to Joe in an honest conversation. It’s a needed discussion and highlights the difference in their communication between both timelines.

Maybe I’m biased and not as invested in Amy’s storyline or future with Joe, but I just felt that this episode was weak. It didn’t really offer much to the overall plot development. However, I do wonder what will happen to Joe and Amy’s marriage. I can’t imagine anything major coming from it. I’m predicting a quick conversation and the two will find their footing yet again.

Perhaps, it’s that the show has set up Joe as the primary character, and any other storyline feels foreign and unnecessary. The way that This Is Us has been successful is by offering a main character in the initial stages, but then dissecting that through the use of many character storylines. By the end you’re left wondering who’s had the most screentime.

Ordinary Joe Review Reset

Eric and Sai on Ordinary Joe. (Photo by: Eliza Morse/NBC)

Even in these episodes that provide context to what makes the other characters tick, they’re dimmed by a quick jump to what’s happening in Joe’s life. The narrative is so heavily placed on Joe’s thinking, I mean it’s about how his life has shifted based on varying choices, that the writers act lost when trying to write for another character.

What did you think about this episode? Please don’t forget to leave your comments down below!

Stray Observations:
  • Amy has to be the only person in the world who still uses Apple Music!
  • Bobby’s wife confronting Amy mid-funeral is terrifying. That takes major guts, and I would literally be floored if I were Amy. I would never want to be seen again.
Rating: 3/5

Ordinary Joe Review: The Letter (1×07)


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Ordinary Joe

Ordinary Joe Review: The Letter (1×07)

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Ordinary Joe Review The Letter

Just as the show left us with a big cliffhanger in the other timelines, Ordinary Joe Season 1 Episode 7,” The Letter,” decided to leave us hanging more by returning to the beginning. However, as we’ve approached a potential lull in the other parallel universes, this was the perfect moment to go back in time.

The series began with Joe’s graduation day and three possible futures. And along the way, there have been pieces of the puzzle scattered here and there. We know he has a sister that he doesn’t talk to, his father who died on 9/11, and now finally, we’re introduced to these elements and the impact they’ve had on his life.

While his father isn’t there to celebrate his big college graduation, he did provide him with a letter that he was told to open during a moment he felt at a crossroads. What better moment to open it when he has no idea what path to pursue in life?

His family doesn’t waste any time before expressing their opinions on what career he should pursue. Initially, Joe’s dream was to become the next Billy Joel, but as his mother is meddling in that dream, he seems to step away from it.

Ordinary Joe Review: The Letter

Jenny and Joe on Ordinary Joe. (Photo: Tom Griscom/NBC)

Once he finally reads his father’s letter, he remembers the importance of choosing his own destiny as long as it’s brave and what he wants. Joe waited the entire day to open the letter because he needed a moment before emotions took over and because he was waiting for the perfect time to open it.

It’s hard to discern whether the show believes everything relies on timing, but Joe certainly thinks so. As Joe and Jenny are waiting for the pregnancy test, Jenny reveals the code name she uses for him in her journals–T.S. (too soon).

For every Jenny shipper out there, it’s hard not to feel like this is already a foreshadowing of their star-crossed future. I didn’t realize Joe was the one who loved Jenny for years. It always seemed like Jenny was the best friend who was in love with Joe.

Now, it’s finally clear that Jenny’s pregnancy news provided him the confidence and timing to ask her to marry him.

Ordinary Joe Review: The Letter

Amy and Joe on Ordinary Joe. (Photo: Tom Griscom/NBC)

Meanwhile, in the other storyline, Joe’s over Jenny’s timing and is ready to move on. So, he chooses to give Amy his number, and they spend the rest of the afternoon together. There’s no arguing that they’re adorable together, but Joe’s chemistry with Jenny wins.

Amy is better with Eric, but only when Eric’s wearing Joe’s lucky shirt.

Again, the question remains, did Joe actually make a decision, or are we going to be left on an unknown ledge to decipher the importance of choices?

What destiny do you think Joe ultimately chooses? Please leave your comments down below!

Stray Musings:
  • Just as Joe’s story is finally unfolding, we’re left with more questions about the other characters’ stories. I want to know more about Jenny, Eric, and Amy and how their lives evolved in the timelines Joe isn’t connected with them.
  • The hairstyles that Joe and Jenny have to make them look younger are just hilarious. How come Amy and Eric get to look the same in every storyline?
  • There has to be more history behind Joe and Mr. Banks. His dislike for Joe goes beyond a father’s protection.
Rating: 4/5


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