Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x02 Review: “Zoey’s Best Friend” (Live in Your Power) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Zoey’s Best Friend”
Original Airdate: February 16, 2020

Being a manager is a challenge, and a common one at that. I’ve struggled in the past to deal with leadership responsibilities, as well as managing people and their emotions. Zoey is beginning to understand the nuances that come with being a new manager of a team of all men, especially when she feels underqualified and extra-especially when she’s just unearthed a new, unwanted superpower.

“Zoey’s Best Friend” is a solid second episode in what is quickly becoming a delightful, relationship-driven NBC comedy! (Let’s hope they keep it on the air longer than they kept most of my other NBC comedies.)


The central conflict in this episode is that at the end of the pilot, Zoey discovered that Max loves her. Or, she corrects herself, because he sang “I Think I Love You,” he might just THINK he’s in love with her. And because she can’t let Max know what she knows or how she knows it, she spends most of the episode trying to avoid him. She sets him up with their barista because she doesn’t want to go out to a fancy farm-to-table restaurant they’d planned to try (such a hip, millennial thing to do). She sets incredibly strict boundaries and insists on only seeing him as a coworker. And in the end, all this does is leave Zoey and Max frustrated and alone.

Interwoven with Zoey’s relationship struggles with Max is the struggle she has with managing a new team. Joan wants her to be firm, to set objectives, and Zoey… well, Zoey wants to be very Zoey about her management style. So she hands out a set of rules and a journal to each of the men on her team. They poke fun of her for doing so, but the laughing stops when Zoey tasks her team with developing a scavenger hunt for the app that leads to a giant party.

It’s a really cool idea, but Zoey makes a very common mistake as a manager: she micromanages. She hovers over her team’s shoulders, inspecting their work. They, of course, are incredibly stressed out by this and Zoey — so frustrated by something she did to herself — makes another new manager mistake. She does the project herself. And while Zoey somehow makes it through the presentation of the app, Joan calls her out on her behavior as a manager.

The primary issue with people who micromanage and do things themselves is that they’re typically control-oriented to begin with. Throughout the episode, we see how Zoey exhibits this character trait. Instead of letting things just happen, she decides to take matters into her own hands and prevent awkwardness, embarrassment, or failure. She controls people and even though she knows she can’t control her new power, she still tries.

So when Zoey tells Mo at the end of the episode that she used to take apart VCRs as a kid just to see how they worked, I’m not the least bit surprised. Already I can tell that Zoey is a go-getter who’s more comfortable in the driver seat than in the passenger one.

She remedied her error in management by apologizing to her team and assuring them that she won’t micromanage anymore. She trusts them and believes in them. Her issue is a little more complex, however, because Autumn — the barista that Zoey sends Max to dinner with — and Max are on another date by the end of the episode. It seems that Zoey’s desire for control might have some unintended consequences for her.

Max, to his credit, communicates his feelings (about being brushed off) to Zoey. He shows up at her parents’ house with butterscotch pudding for Zoey’s dad. And it’s incredibly sweet that he cares about Zoey’s family as if they were his own. While many shows would write Max as some lovesick, fawning goofball who immediately becomes a jerk whenever the girl he likes brushes him aside, Max seems to truly prioritize his and Zoey’s friendship without resorting to being mean. They fight at work, but he’s justified in confronting her about her professional “boundaries” and questioning her motives out of curiosity.

It’s safe to say that while Zoey doesn’t necessarily know how to handle Max’s feelings, maybe this experience will help her handle them better in the future (especially if he begins to sing about Autumn instead).

Elsewhere in the episode, Zoey’s powers become a bit more unwanted when she realizes her father misses intimacy with his wife. It leads to a funny exchange with Mo, but ultimately a very sweet moment between Zoey’s parents. I’m really interested to see how their relationship continues to develop. I often worry with shows like this that have separate storylines that don’t fit into A-plots. But Max interacting with Zoey’s family will hopefully lead them more into the A-story in future episodes as opposed to being relegated to background characters.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist continues to be fun and sweet, emotional in all the right places and a little dramatic in the best ones too. Here’s to more music next week!

Additional things:
  • Here’s my ranking of favorite to least favorite songs this episode: “Sucker,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Moondance,” and “I Got the Music in Me.”
  • Mo has truly become the best part of this show already, if you can’t tell by the number of quotes I have below.
  • “Am I acting weirder than normal?” “Hard to tell.”
  • “Ooh, that song’s hot. How did Max look doing it?”
  • “You THINK it’s Whit— This power is wasted on you.”
  • “Could be cool. Could be confusing. Could be both. We’ll see.”
What did you all think of the episode?


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