NBC’s latest drama Ordinary Joe is not only a heartwarming watch but also an important step towards representation on television, thanks to Christopher Kimbreau, son of Joe Kimbreau in the show.
As someone who has a differently-abled brother, it is actually pretty comforting to see people from the differently-abled community being adequately represented in a mainstream show.
This character, as well as the actor behind the role, deserves your attention and that is why I am here to tell you all that we know so far about him. Who is Christopher Kimbreau? Is he based on a real person? What kind of disability does he have?
Here’s everything you need to know!
Is Christopher Kimbreau Based on a Real Person?
Christopher Kimbreau is a fictional character who is part of the original script of Ordinary Joe. He is not based on any particular person in real life. The story of Ordinary Joe is not inspired by any particular person’s real life or a real incident.
The script of Ordinary Joe was written 15 years ago for another network but for several reasons, the show did not materialize. Matt Reeves, popularly known as the creator of Felicity, had written this script for ABC.
But unfortunately, due to other offers and engagements, he had to keep his script away. But he did not forget about it. Finally, just recently, Ordinary Joe’s script got sold to NBC, and writers Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner were roped in to write the series.
Reeves has gone on record to say that he was inspired by the idea of the road not taken to pen down his original script which turned out to be Ordinary Joe.
Though Ordinary Joe is not based on a real story, Garrett Lerner, one of the writers of the series, does have a son diagnosed with SMA in real life. So while writing Christopher’s character, who suffers from the same disease, Lerner used his own real-life experiences and knowledge.
Perhaps that is why the show gifts us with such a beautiful father-son relationship between Joe and Christopher. Even if stories do not have a particular real-life influence, all stories are real in one way or the other, isn’t it?
What Disability Does Christopher Have in Ordinary Joe?
Christopher, Joe Kimbreau’s teenage son in the series, has a genetic neurological disorder called spinal muscular atrophy or SMA. People with this disability cannot control the movement of their muscles owing to the loss of nerve cells in their brains.
Christopher’s character in the series is empathetic, funny, and wise, which is really well portrayed since the makers looked for actors who have this disability in real life for an accurate representation of people from the SMA community.
I want to give you all an example with this particular scene to explain what I mean. In this particular timeline which Christopher is a part of, Joe plays a nurse. In Episode 3, there is a scene where Joe and Jenny want to go away for a weekend.
In order to do that, Joe teaches his mother how to handle Christopher and take care of his needs. He teaches her how to operate the ropes of a Hoyer lift and how to lay Christopher down on the bed. His mother asks him valid questions and Joe answers them patiently as well.
It seems like a pretty normal scene, no? It is, but it took the world ages to bring this normalcy on screen and give representation to the differently-abled community. So, it is a powerful scene for me that depicts Joe’s caring attitude as a father and his love for his son.
Is Jon Gluck Differently Abled in Real Life?
Jon Gluck, who plays Christopher in Ordinary Joe, is himself differently abled in real life. Gluck suffers from a form of congenital muscular dystrophy called collagen VI muscular dystrophy. This disability is similar to SMA, but they are not the same.
While SMA is a neurological disability, collagen VI muscular dystrophy is a disability that affects skeletal muscles and connective tissues. In SMA, patients cannot control the movement of their muscles due to the loss of neurons from the brain. In collagen VI MD, patients experience muscle weakness too but it also affects one’s joints and bones.
Affected children get contractures in the elbows or ankles. Some people are able to walk properly while some may not be able to. Sometimes, respiratory muscles may also be affected which leads to trouble in breathing.
Though SMA and collagen VI dystrophy have many symptoms in common, they are not the same in diagnosis. While SMA is a disease that targets the muscles, collagen VI dystrophy is one that affects locomotion in bones as well.
Gluck is 12 years old in real life and Ordinary Joe is his first appearance on screen. Gluck plays two roles in the series, Christopher and Lucas. While Christopher belongs to the timeline where Joe becomes a nurse, Lucas is from the alternate timeline where he is an officer.
Gluck is a strong supporter of the differently-abled community at a young age and a vocal supporter of CureMD.org, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching for a cure for his disease.
About Ordinary Joe
Ordinary Joe is an American drama television series that premiered on September 20, 2021, on NBC. The series, produced by 20th Television and Universal Television, was first conceptualized by Matt Reeves. It was then co-developed and co-executive produced by Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend.
The series revolves around Joe Kimbreau after he makes an important decision at his graduation from Syracuse University. The show follows him on three parallel timelines, starting ten years after his graduation: as a police officer, following in his father’s footsteps; as a music star, following his passion; and as a nurse, after he marries his college sweetheart.