Ordinary Joe is a television drama series that began on NBC on September 20, 2021. Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend co-created and co-executive produced the series, which is produced by 20th Television and Universal Television. The series follows Joe Kimbreau as he approaches his graduation from Syracuse University and makes a life-changing decision. Starting ten years after his graduation, the show follows him in three parallel timelines: as a police officer, following in his father’s footsteps; as a music star, pursuing his passion; and as a nurse, when he marries his college sweetheart. As his several lives enthrall the audience, one must wonder about the reality that shaped the act. Let’s see what we can find out!
Ordinary Joe is based on a true story?
‘Ordinary Joe’ isn’t based on a factual story, to be sure. Matt Reeves created the show, which appears to be based on the format of an unproduced show Caleb Ranson developed for ITV. “This thought struck me personally, and I began to consider the options available to you. I wanted to write a story set in the world of the kind of drama Felicity was involved in. “I enjoy serialized stories about intimate times in characters’ lives,” Reeves told Entertainment Weekly. After wrapping up his previous program, ‘Felicity,’ the creator came up with the concept for ABC.
For Reeves, the project served as a platform for delving into the subtleties and meaning of life’s decisions. “Everyone has that moment when they look back and reflect on various forks in the road. ‘God, I could have done this,’ they thought. That was something I could have done. And what would my life be like if that were the case?’ I really wanted to develop a show that embraced the idea that we don’t have complete control over our life. “You have control over your decisions, but not over the timing of events,” he noted.
Despite the fact that Reeves began working on the project for ABC, fate had other plans for him. Reeves had to pick between directing ‘Cloverfield’ and making the show happen while it was being produced at the network. Reeves sold the idea to NBC after a decade, and the network hired Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend to develop it for the network.
Reeves joined as an executive producer when Lerner and Friend came on board to develop the show for NBC, and he led them through the necessary revisions. We put a lot of ourselves into it, per Matt Reeves’ encouragement. When he met with us, he said, “This was a really personal thing to me at the time when I wrote it over a decade ago, and for you to do it well, you should put yourselves into it and make it personal to you.” So we moved locations, which was one of the first things — instead of Northern California, we moved it to New York, which Russ could talk a little bit more about. Lerner told Collider.
Joe’s son, we gave this disease called spinal muscular atrophy, which is the same thing that my son has. So, you know, the phrase is “bleed on the page” — to just open ourselves up and make it really honest and true to what our lives are. And hopefully, the best product comes out of that. Russ, do you want to talk about the New York part of it?
FRIEND: Yeah, totally. I grew up on Oyster Bay, Long Island. So it was Billy Joel central. We were just thinking, it might be cool to move it. Let’s set it in New York and you could maybe grow up in Queens. I have family who live in Flushing and it just felt like kind of the perfect location for this family whose dad was a cop. It just felt like the perfect location for him to grow up. And that’s where he met Eric and they were best friends. And then, from there it sort of just grew into everything else — sending them to Syracuse came out of that.
Also, a big part of the New York thing was that, for Cop Joe, we added the whole backstory that his father was killed in 9/11. And that became kind of a central focal point, obviously for his character, for all three characters, you know? So then New York became even more important. They were like, “Yeah, we’ll definitely keep it in New York.” So his dad was NYPD, he was on the scene that day and was killed. So that became a big part of the show and an important thing for us to do.
LERNER: And we changed two of Joe’s career paths. Matt[‘s script] had a Lawyer Joe. And an English Teacher Joe — which we changed into Nurse Joe and Rock Star Joe, respectively, because we loved playing around with the idea. One of Matt’s characters, English Teacher Joe, was kind of a hopeful dreamer. And we thought, what if one of these Joes, instead of being a dreamer, has achieved those dreams, and how fun it would be to play around with that idea that, one choice could actually lead to full-on celebrity and stardom and then compare that to the other lives. And then, what is actual happiness? Is it, actual happiness to achieve what you think your dream is? Or can you find contrasting happiness?
- I mean, it helps that any one of these three shows could easily be its own show.
LERNER: Yeah. We would have a lot more cop stories and a lot more medical stories if we had just done one or the other. A lot more touring and concerts, if we have done that.
FRIEND: That was one of the things when we were casting, we really took a long time, but we got really super lucky with obviously all our casts, but especially our top four because we feel all of them could basically be the lead of their own show. Like you’re saying, so it’s like, we can have all these. It is like three different shows. And like we want to, in the future, branch out and give more stories to Charlie and Natalie and Elizabeth. So it could be even a law show because since [Jenny’s] a lawyer. We could have that.