“Average Joe” blends high drama with macabre humor — a suitable mix for Deon Cole, the comedian/actor (“Black-ish,” “Grown-ish,” “Angie Tribeca”) who stars in the BET+ series.
“I’m going to be real with you,” said Cole, 51, told The Post. “I wrote a movie from my point-of-view and it had comedy and also dramatic moments. And I went and pitched it and took [meetings] with some heavy-hitting directors and no one wanted to do it. They said, ‘It’s got to be comedy; drama is going to make people sad.’
“I was like, ‘You can really do both. I guarantee you.’ But no one would do it. And then this script came along and I was like, ‘Oh, s–t, this is like my script!’ It had humor, drama, horror, gore, gangster s–t — everything all in one.”
In the 10-episode series, created by Robb Cullen — and inspired by his life — Cole plays Joe Washington, a middle-class, family-man plumber who lives in suburban Pittsburgh with his wife Angela (Tammy Townsend) and 18-year-old daughter, Jen (Ashley Olivia Fisher). The action opens violently — Joe is slugged over the head in an office — then flashes back to the previous day as Joe and his family mourn the death of Joe’s father, Teddy, who owned a local towing service (and valuable Steelers tickets).
Joe soon learns that his father led a double-life as a drug mule — and that Jen’s new-ish boyfriend, Dimitri (Chris Petrovski), is the son of Russian mobster Nicolai Dzhugashvili (Pasha D. Lychnikoff), from whom Teddy stole $10 million and a Lamborghini. Dimitri demands that Joe return both the car and the money … or else.
This leads to several murders, a coverup, the attention of no-nonsense state cop Pam Talford (Ashani Roberts) and a search for the $10 million that ensnares not only Joe, Angela and Jen but their friends: bumbling, henpecked Leon (Malcolm Barrett, who shines in comic relief), his wife Cathy (Cynthia McWilliams) — whose true-crime addiction come in handy (well, sort of) — and hard-drinking, drug-addicted, down-and-out Pittsburgh cop “Touch” Tuchawuski (Michael Trucco).
“What I love about this series … people have been asking me questions like, ‘Why didn’t they do this or that?’ and I’m like, ‘Just look at the name of the show — it’s right there,’” Cole said. “He doesn’t know any of these things. He’s an Average Joe … these are average, everyday people … who don’t know what they’re doing. How they deal with it might seem crazy, but when you’re in desperate times, how crazy is crazy?
“They have no idea — until they know.”
BET+ send out four “Average Joe” episodes before the series launched June 26; Cole said this is just the beginning of a winding arc leading to a conclusion no one will see coming.
“The way it begins is not the way it ends,” he said. “Oh my God, wait until you see the finale.
“The last episode and last scene is going to flip people’s heads back.”
New episodes of “Average Joe” drop Thursdays on BET+.