Two actors made brief appearances in supporting roles: Ryan Raddatz played Molly's boyfriend, William (who feigned shock at seeing her in a bikini), and Steve Ireland played David Decker - a phony network executive (who negotiated with Gould to finish the "Meal Not Quite Fit for a King").
The show experienced an unexpected shift during an early episode. Earl ("the Veteran") had bonded with Gould. When Earl was "voted" off the show, Gould began to weep and question his possible monetary gain at the cost of competing against his new friends. Both the other "contestants" and the show's executives allegedly questioned the future of the show. While Gould was kept in the dark until the very end, the tone of the show was apparently altered (according to the voiceover of the early episodes). While the original premise had been to make situations funny at Gould's expense, it became clear that the audience would sympathize too strongly with his earnestness; later games and contests were rigged to ensure he would win.
Gould's sensitivity came to the forefront in a later episode featuring a Sumo Wrestling contest. Gould knocked down Dr. Pat and she injured her head and had to be taken to the hospital. Gould eventually won the contest but was disturbed by the injury to Dr. Pat. The next day when Dr. Pat returned to the show, Gould gave her the all-expense-paid spa vacation he had won earlier.
In the show's finale, which aired to over 3.4 million viewers (the all-time record for a non-wrestling show on TNN/Spike up to that time), Gould learned the truth and received the $100,000 prize for which he was "competing," along with the vacation and a new plasma TV. He later recorded commentary that was included in Mo' Joe Schmo, a rebroadcast of the series. The Joe Schmo Show was released on DVD with additional and uncensored footage in 2004.
Gould's plaintive cry, "What is going on?!," delivered upon his discovery that the show was a fraud, became a popular catch phrase. Spike TV has since used the phrase at the end of the network's other original productions, some of them involving Gould himself.
In 2004, Spike TV aired a second season of The Joe Schmo Show, called Joe Schmo 2 and tagged, "The Schmo must go on." Rather than duplicate the premise of the first season, producers satirized reality dating shows such as The Bachelor and The Bachelorette with a fake show called Last Chance for Love. Producers also set out to fool not one, but two people, a man (Tim Walsh) and a woman (originally Ingrid Wiese, but see below). The series premiered on June 15, 2004.
The original "Joe Schmo," Matt Kennedy Gould, taped a cameo appearance during an episode of Joe Schmo 2 as a pizza delivery man, but the segment was cut when the network decided to shorten the episode.
The series took an unexpected twist within minutes of its beginning when Wiese became suspicious of some of her fellow contestants (especially when one, who had only been hired for the first episode and was not aware of the nature of the program, stated that her agent had arranged for her to appear on the show). Things reached a head when the character of "Cammy", who was supposed to be telling Ingrid a secret, paused her story in order to allow the cameraman to change batteries. Wiese began openly questioning the contest, eventually stating during an interview segment that she didn't believe it was real. At this point, the series alternated between the hoax and a debate among the producers and writers about how to handle Wiese, particularly since Walsh had, up to that point, not yet begun to question the hoax. Ultimately, the producers decided to reveal the hoax to Wiese (during an activity in which Walsh was not present) and gave her the choice either to leave the show or to stay and become one of its characters, with a promised $100,000 payout at the end if she were successful in helping fool Walsh. Wiese chose to join the cast. In order to preserve the original intent to fool both a male and a female star, the producers brought in another woman (Amanda Naughton), who had thought she was an unsuccessful applicant, to serve as the second "schmo." The faux bachelor and bachelorette were asked to choose one of two doors in order to bring a new contestant into the game. Walsh and Naughton were told that one door hid a male suitor and one door hid a female; in actuality, the choice was scripted and Naughton was the only new contestant present.
The cast members (including Wiese) played broad stereotypes of dating-show personalities.
Two other actors (Timothy Brennan and Robin McDonald) portrayed supporting roles in two separate episodes. In one episode, Brennan played Piper's over-protective father, Frank, while McDonald played Piper's loving mother, Betty. The other episode, which aired the following week, featured Brennan as Austin's fun father, Dallas, and McDonald as Austin's strict mother, Lois.
In addition to revealing the hoax to her and inviting her to join the other actors, producers also gave Wiese storylines of her own including one in which her character was accused of faking a death in the family in a bid to win Austin's affections. At one point she was temporarily evicted from the house, but was later allowed to return; Tim Walsh was also evicted at one point, but this was part of the ongoing storyline, and he, too, rejoined the contest soon after.
The show's major ongoing plot involved the character of Bryce, who began stalking Piper, the Bachelorette, even after he was evicted twice from the show.
The series ultimately resolved itself at a "promise ceremony", attended by all the previous contestants on the show, where Piper and Austin, whom it was revealed were in fact an estranged couple, were given the choice of either promising themselves to Amanda and Tim (the last two contestants), or marrying each other. Realizing their love had not died after all, Piper and Austin agreed to marry, but the ceremony was interrupted by the manic Bryce, who proclaimed his love for Piper, and then revealed the true nature of the program. After a tense moment (the producers were prepared for the usually easy-going but sometimes irritable Tim to react badly to the revelation), Tim broke the tension by exclaiming, "Jackpot!"
All three "schmos" (Walsh, Naughton, and Wiese) received the same amount ($100,000) that Gould earned in season one, plus vacation packages they won playing contests during the show. A Third World child was also genuinely adopted in Walsh's name as part of one of the contests.
Garman dyed his hair blond and wore a fake beard, fake glasses, blue contact lenses and false teeth so he would not be recognized by the new contestants. During the finale, however, Naughton recognized one of the actresses who had been eliminated prior to her arrival, Natasha Leggero, because she had seen the woman perform as a stand-up comic. Fortunately, this did not derail the illusion because Naughton did not know the false identity that Leggero had created for the show.
Much of the final episode detailed the immediate aftermath of the revelation to Amanda and Tim. The actress who played Piper the bachelorette tearfully expressed remorse at the hoax. Both Amanda and Tim took the revelation of the hoax in relatively good (if somewhat stunned) spirits.