Do you ever think about decisions that you’ve made in your life and wonder if you had made another choice, what would be different for you? If you’re like me, you spend way too much time thinking about it and use it as an excuse to continue life being as indecisive as possible.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s the lack of ability to make those choices that has led you to the life that you have. And is that the life that you really truly want? Is it the life that you are meant to have?
My fascination with the “what if” is what led me here, to sitting on my bed and watching Ordinary Joe, and watching how what seems like a simple choice – who he goes with after his graduation – isn’t really so simple at all.
Joe was late to his graduation and that being late is where he bumped into and met Amy. And Amy’s the girl that he feels like he can tell anything to. His best friend Eric wants him to ask her out. Then there is Jenny, his best friend – who is sometimes more than friends and she wants him to go to the beach with him so that they can talk. Talks never result in anything good.
And then there is family – his Mom, Uncle Frank, and his Aunt Meg. Does he go with them to dinner?
It all seems like simple choices, but the choices that he makes can change his entire life. He’s got three distinct paths and which path does he take? The truth is – they all lead to very different lives.
In every road that he could take we’re going to have same things that could/would happen, but it’s a matter of how he deals with it because of who he is.
And all those versions shine at the reunion. It’s been 10 years since he graduated and that is a long but short time.
His life – in every version – has him showing up at that reunion. And every version leads you to another moment where you are asking – what if? what does Joe do next?
ASKING AMY OUT
Amy may be the first girl that Joe has felt at ease with and as if he could be himself with and that’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes those people aren in your life forever and sometimes they are a moment in time.
But there are also these once in a lifetime connections. And for Joe, that may be Amy. She’s a dreamer just like him.
When he has all of his roads clearly laid out in front of him – Amy’s road leads to Joe following his dreams and becoming a rockstar. And he’s following his dreams and she’s following hers.
It’s part of what makes everything about them fit. They’ve always been dreamers and it’s what motivated them to be more.
To do more.
You can see the love that Joe has for her. It shines. When they are at an appointment and find out that they are having twins, he’s excited. She’s excited. But she’s also scared. They’ve had several miscarriages and she doesn’t want to be broken. She wants Joe to know that she’s whole. It is heartbreaking to watch her go through learning she is pregnant and then have a miscarriage.
Amy is like this force. Yes, Joe is this household name and he’s a superstar, but all he wants to be a Dad. That’s it. Amy on the other hand is dealing with this by throwing herself into work. And she’s upset when Joe presses her on how long that they are going to need to press pause on having a baby for.
Here’s the thing about Ordinary Joe – you watch it and you have to pay attention, because everything means something. Everything. And when you’re seeing this man that could have three very distinct lives you don’t know which one you’re rooting for. There are parts of all three aspects of him that you know that you will love. There are aspects of him that are characteristics of a man that you would want to bring home.
But you wonder – with all these different lives, are the parts of him that shine in one version of himself; would these be things that shine in other parts of him? Or would you get the worst of him?
One thing that you can see in every version of Joe is that he doesn’t know who he is fully, but he wants nothing more than to give and receive love.
Joe and Amy are fighting so he heads to the reunion where he sees Jenny. She’s beautiful and staring and he feels an instant connection again. Why? They were best friends. And that kind of love doesn’t fade.
But Jenny tells him a secret that she kept. She had given birth to Joes child. She gave him up for adoption. Joe wasn’t mad, he was caught up and all he kept saying was that he was going to find his son. He was going to get to know him.
BEACH WITH JENNY
Jenny is Joe’s best friend and life is good when you have a best friend. Joe knows that Jenny is a good woman, but the “friends with benefits” thing is all sorts of confusing.
Going down the path that led to Jenny’s beach house after graduation, would lead Joe into becoming a nurse. He’d have a family, Jenny would be a paralegal. They’d be doing a trial separation which would lead to their divorce.
Well at least her handing him the papers.
These two have a complicated relationship, because they don’t connect. They’ve been doing everything in order to take care of their special needs son, but have forgotten how to take care of themselves. We totally understand that marriage takes hard work and that there are a bunch of things that can happen but you still have to fight for what is there.
And Joe is hearing from everyone that he needs to work on it.
But how do you work on things when you’re scared to let down your walls? How do you work on things when everything feels like it’s just going to break.
I tell you how – you dig deep.
When Joe’s son reminds him that he’s his hero, you see this change in Joe. You see a part of him that has become alive because he knows that he means something to someone and that his relationship is worth fighting for.
And when he fights – when he shows up and actually is honest with his wife, it’s beautiful. It’s like what it should be, that willingness to let down your guard and believe in the what you are fighting for.
Jenny is a little apprehensive, but she tells him that she sees the him that she’s missed. She sees the him that was lost. It’s crazy how vulnerability can be this thing that opens up both your heart and mind, but it does.
You look at this version of Joe and you see this man that really loves his family, his job, and his future is there for the taking.
But you wonder, does this version of Joe and Jenny make sense? Or did they settle?
DINNER WITH FAMILY
If he goes to dinner with family, Joe is going to become a cop. He’s still best friends with Eddie, but his life is his job. Being in the NYPD is part of Joes family legacy. His father was a police officer who died on September 11th.
And Joe’s Uncle Frank has talked him into joining the force also. He loves his job and is good at it. He’s so good at it that he saves a congressman from an assassination attempt.
And this leads Joe to getting a medal. But while Uncle Frank is telling Joe about what the Congressman wants to do, he notices Amy in the pictures. He decides that he’ll go to the press conference, because he wants to see Amy.
And that leads to him going to the office the next day and her realizing that she knew him. He reminds her of where and they reminisce for a second. But that second leads them to agreeing to meet up at the reunion.
And these two have fun. A lot of fun. They seem happy together. They seem as though they can find peace in each other.
But here’s the thing we quickly learn – no matter which road you take in life, other people can take the original road and it comes full circle. You will be scared to admit it – but you can’t outrun the past. It always catches up with you.
And for Joe, right in front of him stands Jenny. She’s there with her son and you know instantly that is Joes son. They don’t say it, he doesn’t even think it.
But you’re left to wonder, can you outrun fate? Do the choices that you make matter? Will fate catch up with you?
Like Joe says, the question then becomes not “what if” but what do you do next?
- Joes life is very wrapped up in others – no matter the timeline
- I love the ambition of the show, but I do have to admit sometimes the timelines are very confusing. Right now we’re at the beginning, but as time goes on will this show be able to keep up with itself.
- I love that in every timeline – Joes son stays the same. I’ve watched too many DC shows to not know what a child will become.
Ordinary Joe airs Mondays on NBC.