My Life With the Walter Boys’ messy love triangle between a girl and two brothers may feel familiar — and that’s exactly how it was designed.
The series, which is based on Ali Novak’s 2014 novel of the same name, follows Manhattanite Jackie Howard (Nikki Rodriguez) as she moves in with family friends following the death of her parents and sister. While settling into her new rural lifestyle in Colorado, she finds herself developing feelings for two nearly estranged brothers: Cole (Noah LaLonde) and Alex Walter (Ashby Gentry), who couldn’t be more different.
“[The story] was inspired by Damon and Stefan [Salvatore] from The Vampire Diaries,” Novak told Entertainment Weekly in December 2023. “There’s just something so compelling about a love triangle, and there’s so many YA books that have been influenced by that show.”
The Vampire Diaries novels were released in the early ‘90s by author L. J. Smith. The books were later adapted into an 8-season series for the CW, which starred Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert, a girl who falls in love with vampire brothers: Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). My Life With the Walter Boys has followed a similar trajectory, with the story starting on writing and publishing website Wattpad before being adapted into a novel and later getting picked up by Netflix. The first season dropped on the streaming service in December 2023 and the romantic drama was picked up for season 2 just weeks later.
While the Walter Boys novel ends with Jackie breaking up with Alex to be with Cole, the TV series takes a different approach. Viewers watched as Jackie gave into her feelings for Cole as the two exchanged a passionate kiss at the end of season 1, despite her still being in a relationship with Alex. Overwhelmed by her emotions, she beelines it back to New York City with her uncle Richard (Alex Quijano), leaving nothing but an apology note behind.
“We have to make changes to make it work as a TV series,” showrunner Melanie Halsall explained to EW. “The way that relationships unfold, especially Jackie and Alex’s relationship, is slightly different than in the book. And what happens at the end will surprise people because that is different than the book, but I’m hoping that gives the audience — both the audience that loves the book and the new audience — a bit of a surprise.”
Halsall explained that after a season filled with drama, she wanted everything to feel peaceful in the Walters’ world by the finale before letting things finally explode.
“By Episode 10, everything’s settled down,” she said. “Her relationship with Alex is going well. Alex and Cole have a truce. She and Cole seem to be getting on OK as friends — and then I wanted to blow all that up. That was always my intention, to lead the audience down a certain path and then blow it all up.”
Where the trio goes from here remains to be seen, but as for who the actors are rooting for, Gentry told Popternative that his opinion on the love triangle changed over time.
“When we were shooting it, I was very much like, ‘How can you watch this show and not be Team Alex?’ Like, it did not make sense to me,” he said after the series hit Netflix. “I’d even talk to Noah and be like, ‘How are you not Team Alex? You read the scripts!’ Then I’m watching it back again and I kind of get it. I get why there’s a tension. I’m like, ‘Oh, maybe there is this true love thing that comes into it.”
Keep scrolling for a full timeline of the love triangle between Jackie, Alex and Cole:
The first episode of the series sees Jackie arriving at the Walter family ranch, where Cole is immediately on her radar after she meets him by the pool. The pair’s chemistry is there from the jump, with Cole nicknaming Jackie “New York.” Alex and Jackie, meanwhile, connect when they’re put in the same class. As the rest of the brothers continue to give her a hard time, Alex offers her a friendly hand.
The 2 Sides of Cole
While Jackie and Cole connect during an evening by the water in episode 2, she later finds out that he was the brains behind a prank that left her with bleached hair. At the same time, she and Alex get closer when he shows her his favorite place on the farm: the kids’ loft. The two jump into stacks of hay and even share a near kiss before getting interrupted by Cole.
A Near Kiss Twice Over
Cole convinces a stressed-out Jackie to cut school on episode 3, leaving Alex scrambling to cover for her. Day drinking at a party, Jackie drunkenly almost kisses Cole during a game of Truth or Dare but ends up puking on him instead. Back at the ranch, she tries to kiss Alex while thanking him for always being there for her, but he tells her he wants their first kiss to be when she’s sober.
A Messy Mix-Up
Jackie bonds with Cole about their shared losses while the two are left home alone to do yard work as punishment for skipping school in episode 4. As the power goes out in the house from a storm, the electricity between them heightens, and they almost kiss before the family returns home — and Alex finds them together.
A Not-So-Happy Holiday
Episode 5 sees Jackie’s first Thanksgiving with the Walters. After her family’s tea kettle is accidentally broken, Cole sneaks away to try and piece it back together. Alex, meanwhile, makes his own grand gesture by taking her to a spot where she can see the sunset between two trees — something he hopes will remind her of the Manhattanhenge when she’s missing New York City. Just as Cole finishes her kettle, he sees Jackie and Alex sharing their first kiss.
Coming to Blows
Alex and Jackie settle into their relationship in episode 6. The pair are in romantic bliss before she discovers that Alex and Cole fought over a girl before she arrived. She learns that Cole, upon returning from out of town over the summer, kissed Alex’s then-girlfriend, Paige, at a party. When Jackie confronts Alex about why he didn’t tell her, Alex confesses he was afraid to be honest for fear that Jackie would realize she’s out of his league. Later, Alex and Cole drunkenly get in each other’s face, resulting in Alex punching Cole in the face.
A Rain-Soaked Confession
Alex and Cole’s issues continue to escalate, while their brother Nathan (Corey Fogelmanis) gets taken to the hospital. Cole later picks Jackie up when she gets lost in the woods and he questions why Jackie is with Alex, accusing her of dating his brother because he’s “safe.” As they get caught in the rain, Cole reveals he never knew that Alex and Paige were dating and he never meant to hurt his brother.
A Truth Revealed
After Cole spirals in episode 7 and tells Jackie he wishes she never moved to Colorado, he and Alex finally make amends over their differences. When giving Jackie a ride home later that day, Cole’s truck breaks down and he admits that he doesn’t want to hurt Alex, but he can’t “not want” to be with Jackie, leaving the twosome at a crossroads.
As Alex grows more attached to Jackie, she finds herself drifting from him due to Cole’s confession. She and Cole share a sweet moment in a field while picking wildflowers, which she later finds out represents unrequited love. After Alex tells Jackie he’s in love with her and then passes out from too much champagne, Jackie discovers the tea kettle Cole fixed but never gave to her. She confronts him in the barn, and the pair share a passionate kiss. The next morning, she flees to New York City, leaving only a note behind.