**Spoilers for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist lie inside**
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a wonderful new addition to the world of musical television. Where Glee and Smash once stood tall, we’ve been ushered into the era of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and now Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. These are shows that are a bit more set into the idea that people are not singing out in public vs. both Glee and Smash, which aren’t part of the typical musical format. It gets confusing, trust me—and I have a degree in understanding theatre.
On Zoey, the main character can hear the “heart songs” of other characters, unbeknownst to them. This sets up a number of moving and funny situations, as Zoey is privy to the innermost thoughts of the people around her, as expressed by popular music.
With Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, it’s really more about the emotion behind each of these numbers that hits us while watching. From Zoey being able to hear her father’s thoughts through song (he’s suffering from a form of MS), to understanding the connection that her friend Max has to her, the show finds a way of telling these stories through song and compelling Zoey to help those around her. It’s definitely not your typical musical scenario, but it works beautifully.
One element on the show that I appreciate is the relationship that already exists between Max and Zoey. Though the two were best friends from the start, when Zoey gets her powers, she ends up learning that Max has feelings for her, and tries to stop them without actually having a conversation with him.
But the problem with Zoey’s power is that it doesn’t do what she wants it to. It forces her into talking to people, into connecting, and when she doesn’t listen it takes her over. (Like the episode when she could not stop singing her feelings to her own detriment.)
The moment that captured my heart was Max singing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers.
I’ve loved Skylar Astin (who plays Max) for a long while. So watching him be so in love with Zoey and willing to do anything for her was especially moving. This includes singing “Pressure” by Billy Joel when everything breaks around her and she sings at the CEO of her company.
Zoey is stuck between her feelings for both Simon and Max, knowing that Simon is engaged to someone else, but that doesn’t stop her from sharing her true feelings because … well, it’s out of her control. And she unwillingly throws herself into a love triangle and can’t figure it out for herself. But, as Max points out to her, one song is about love and one song she sings is about attraction, and it’s up to her to choose. This sort of conundrum actually feels fun to watch and consider a world where this is someone’s most pressing problem.
So right now, when everything feels a little dark, a show like this can be hopeful and bright. Sure, there are storylines that fall into typical comedic situations (like a love triangle or the rogue heartbreaking storyline that brings us to tears while we’re laughing) but still, it’s a lovely watch overall. I highly recommend it right now for a bit of escapism.
Zoey helps you forget about almost everything else for a while. I caught on all in one sitting and felt the need to go sing and have a fun moment like Zoey is forced to do. At least I can just live in the world of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist for a while. I’ll take it.
(image: James Dittiger/NBC)
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