Jackie In ‘My Life With The Walter Boys,’ Explained: Who Does Jackie Choose Between Cole And Alex?

My Life With The Walter Boys, the 2023 Netflix coming-of-age teen rom-com is a sweet story about a recently orphaned girl named Jackie whose life turns upside down when she has to move from the Big Apple to Colorado to her mother’s best friend’s home. Jackie is absolutely your typical high school drama female lead. She’s got perfect grades; she has a goal to accomplish, and she’s so driven to that goal that even when her entire family dies in a car accident, she’s able to focus on it. Picture Gabriella Montez, but switch up the music with event management, and you’ve got yourself Jackie Howard. Newcomer Nikki Rodriguez is being named Netflix’s new big YA star, and for good reason. She’s got all the right attributes to be a leading lady on these teen shows for at least another 5 years, and I mean this as a compliment. She’s charming and graceful as Jackie and something of a highlight in the mostly dull show.

Jackie is the new girl in town when she makes the big move from New York to the ranch of the Walters. She’s quiet and sophisticated, a combination that seems to be missing entirely in her new school. For a teenager, these may come across as almost anti-social traits, but somehow she manages to make friends quickly. Knowing her organized brain, she manages to learn about the handful of kids living in the Walter household in mere minutes—a laudable feat right there. What is disappointing about the show is that even though it looks like Jackie is tough on the surface, something is waiting to crack underneath. The show never allows her time to grieve her family; even with episodes about her sister’s birthday and other moments that could’ve been a tipping point, we never truly see Jackie’s feelings explode; they only trickle. I suppose that’s more of a script issue than a character flaw. Jackie definitely seems to be the kind of girl who gets triggered by certain things; she is, after all, a hormonal teenager, one living in the middle of a dozen hormonal teenage boys.

Maybe it’s the fact that she has to grow up really early out of the blue, but the advantage there is that Jackie seems to have always been independent and very self-righteous. She’s got everything figured out until she’s in the Walter household. There is one vulnerable moment in the show where you really see what Jackie is going through. It’s when she’s with the counselor, Tara (the best character in the show, for sure), who worries for the young girl, who seems to be distracting herself through work. When Tara asks Jackie why she stopped seeing her friends, Jackie mentions that it was never she who stopped; it was them, because nobody knows how to talk to a grieving person. This is Jackie’s little cry for help, and it’s never addressed directly after. I suppose it’s the way her relationship builds with Katherine, the mom of the Walter family and her own mother’s best friend, that is her big safety net.

To add to this totally messed up situation, Jackie is stuck between two of the Walter boys when it comes to love(absolutely messed up). On one side, she’s got the really nice, almost reflection of her, Alex, and on the other is the absolute opposite, Cole, who has his own problems to grieve about. To add to the matter, Cole and Alex aren’t on the best of terms because of their past, but according to Jackie’s new friend, she’s landed in “boy heaven.” Jackie’s new friends are absolutely cardboard and have nothing special about their personalities. It’s almost as if they’re just there when she needs them to boost her own character. A common trait in most sidekicks in new-age teen shows.

So, Who Does Jackie Choose?

Well, at first, she makes the right choice, Alex. The nice guy, who understands her and makes her feel safe. Interestingly, though, the second they’re together, it almost looks like Jackie has no interest in him at all. Maybe it’s what the show calls the “Cole Effect” that makes her drift towards the other guy with full force after she’s made her choice (lame). Certainly, both choices aren’t great. Alex is confused about everything except his feelings for Jackie and is quick to fight his brother without talking to him first. Cole, on the other hand, loves to keep all of his problems to himself, even if they involve other people. Trying to get them to understand each other is like mixing oil with water, yet Jackie seems to be the babysitter left with this job.

By the end of My Life With The Walter Boys, Alex tells Jackie that he’s in love with her (something she’s absolutely gobsmacked by), and all she can do is stare at his face. I don’t think it’s much of a choice problem here. Cole is someone who makes her try new things and be more adventurous, so she wants to give him a go, but it comes across more like Alex was boring, so I’m going to switch things up. I couldn’t judge her for feeling that way, but there was no reason for her to cheat on the poor guy. He was just trying to communicate his feelings, something he learned from his previous mistakes.

Fortunately, at the end of the season, it does seem like Jackie makes the right choice for herself. Jackie finally decides to prioritize herself after being pulled around like play-doh. Of course, you could argue she’s running away from her problems; she certainly is, but the best way to deal with her situation is to figure out what she really wants. What’s unfortunate is the fact that she finally found family in the rest of the Walters, but because of her one stupid mistake, she’s got no choice but to move back to New York and change her plans again. It would be nice to see Jackie grow as a person in season 2 of My Life With The Walter Boys rather than see her achieve things; that’s something we know she excels at. All we can do is hope and wait.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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