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Out of the ordinary

Imaginative drama Ordinary Joe devotes special attention to family matters


Out of the ordinary
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“One choice could change your whole life.”

So observes Joe (James Wolk), the title character of NBC’s new series Ordinary Joe, as he considers a career in music, medicine, or law enforcement. His choice? Unknown—the show imagines all three possible futures.

Perhaps more imaginative, though, are the show’s countercultural takes on family priorities, making Ordinary Joe (rated TV-PG but includes some explicit language and sensual moments) worth a look.

Ten years after college graduation, the same people inhabit each of Joe’s lives but in different ways. In one, Joe’s a nurse, married to Jenny (Elizabeth Lail). They have a son but are on the brink of divorce. Rock star Joe and his wife, Amy (Natalie Martinez), are having trouble conceiving, when Joe bumps into old flame Jenny. In the third life, Joe’s an unmarried police officer. The first three episodes don’t hint at how writers will merge or purge plotlines. (Hopefully, no sci-fi silliness, triplets, or viewers voting for their favorite Joe.) Each story takes intriguing twists, including variations of an attempted assassination.

Most fascinating, though, is the focus on family. The alter egos all struggle to prioritize marriage and kids amid successful jobs. The Joes cherish fatherhood. An unplanned pregnancy, with a disabled child, even leads to adoption.

So far, Joe and his acquaintances have made some extraordinary choices.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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