Far from Ordinary: Enjoy and Binge NBC’s Ordinary Joe and Hope for a Second Season of this Wonderful Gem
My life with Covid around is pretty boring, but one of my highlights from the past few months have been watching Ordinary Joe weekly and just being totally in awe and amazingly happy with how this show addresses just about every aspect of living with a disability. Recently season one of Ordinary Joe concluded and if you haven’t heard of this show I strongly encourage you to binge all 13 episodes and join me and others to press for another season.
Ordinary Joe is very heartfelt and very bingeable, but you need to pay close attention especially in the first episode as the story takes place in three different parallel stories. NBC offers this description of Ordinary Joe: “Life is all about the choices one makes -- and sometimes, what one does in a single moment can change everything. Joe Kimbreau faces one of these decisions at his college graduation, leading to three parallel stories that diverge from that night. Each path finds Joe with a different career -- as a nurse, a police officer or a rock star -- along with different friendships, relationships and family lives, showing the unexpected ways things change -- and stay the same. But when it comes down to it, there is no "right" choice; no matter what happens, Joe's life is always messy, exciting, tough, unpredictable -- and beautiful.”
All 3 Joes have a son with spinal muscular atrophy, SMA, played by thirteen year old John Gluck who also has some form of muscular dystrophy. John Gluck plays Christopher, Lucas and Zeke, three different variations of the same boy in each of Joe’s three different life paths. Nurse Joe’s son’s name is Chris and gets the most screen time as this version of Joe’s son, officer Joe’s son’s name is Lucas and rock star Joe’s son’s name is Zeke. After a couple Google searches, I uncovered that show’s co-creator Garrett Lerner, who has a son Zeke, 21, with SMA type 2, knew from the beginning he wanted to cast someone with an actual disability, not simply have an actor learn to use a wheelchair. He solicited auditions from children across the nation through the SMA and social media community and ended up with an estimated 60 to 80 responses. John Gluck quickly shot up to the top three finalists, and his interaction and improvisation with the show’s star, James Wolk, over Zoom sealed the deal for the Ordinary Joe team and you can certainly tell they made the perfect choice. John Gluck’s personality, humor and authenticity shines throughout his performances - plus an occasional song.
The writing of this show is absolutely amazing and you can definitely tell it was created by someone who loves someone close to them who lives with with a disability. The fall finale of Ordinary Joe, episode 9 “Thankful”, addressed issues hiring personal care aides and was one of my favorite episodes. Another episode kind of touched on the issue of aborting a disabled baby too and another episode featured storylines around preparing for the big spinal fusion surgery as well as the day of surgery. Notable disability influencer, YouTuber and writer Shane Burcaw and his wife/girlfriend also guest starred in one episode where Chris and his dad and personal care aide attend an expo, which also made me really really happy. The season finale was beautifully written and interwoven, I’m going to try really hard not to give away any spoilers but my top three favorite things about this episode were: dialogue between Chris and Joe about how airplane personnel destroy some extravagant number of power wheelchairs every year which was 100% on point and also led into another sweet conversation about adapting your dreams, Joe’s road trip detour to surprise Chris and learning the origin of Chris’s name.
In addition to disability, this show also has strong ties to 9/11, blue lives and the impacts of alcohol use in excess. I think we all can relate to second guessing decisions we have made in life as well as the what ifs and Ordinary Joe is truly a wonderful gem that will not disappoint!
*All of season one is now available to stream on Hulu and Peacock, as well as directly through NBC.