Sunday, March 29, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x07 Review: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Confession” (Max Knows) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Confession”
Original Airdate: March 22, 2020

Last week’s episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist set things on fire — literally. Simon’s fiancé, Jessica, discovered that Simon had visited Zoey late at night and things didn’t go well from there. While at Simon and Jessica’s engagement party, Zoey got a call from her mother; her dad fell and was going to the hospital. That led to what might be the best cover the show has done thus far, with Zoey hearing Max’s internal rendition of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and making sure she was able to get to her family and be there for them. That kick-starts some complicated feelings for Zoey which play directly into this week’s episode.

Let’s talk about feelings, shall we?


We’re so used to seeing Zoey’s life as a musical that when Max breaks out into song and dance in the middle of a food court (singing “If I Can’t Have You”) nothing seems out of the ordinary. Until he responds to something that Zoey says. That’s new! But as soon as she begins to figure out what’s happening, we do too: it’s a flash mob! That Max organized! To tell Zoey how he felt!

And Zoey’s response is to run away and avoid him.

Given what we know to be true about Zoey up until this point in the series, I’m not entirely surprised she ran away but I am a bit disappointed about it. This trope is used all the time, and it feels like a little bit of a cop-out to have Zoey framed as a scientific, data-driven person who doesn’t understand feelings. While Zoey is our heroine and I adore her, this trope has been played out so many times: a girl’s best friend likes her, she doesn’t want to pursue the relationship because it would ruin their friendship, and she feels “conflicted.” I know that it’s a lot to ask of a freshman network show, but I still expect shows in 2020 to subvert tropes and traps like these.

Nevertheless, Jane Levy and Skylar Astin do a brilliant job with what they’re given, especially Astin who has the pained and pining best friend so well. But while Max confessing his feelings to Zoey is a big part of the episode, an even bigger revelation takes place: Zoey tells Max about her powers.

What’s fascinating to me is that Mo might have been momentarily skeptical but he immediately accepted the superpower and rules. Max, on the other hand, sees Zoey’s confession as a way out of talking about their relationship. And as someone who’s also working in the realm of data (whereas Mo is a creative), Max doesn’t get it. There’s no way that Zoey could know what’s going on in peoples’ heads, let alone bend the laws of time and physics to do so.

Zoey is earnest to prove him wrong, but it’s really a distraction (again, Mo points this out) from what she needs to do which is make a choice about how she feels about Max. As Zoey continues to avoid making hard choices about feelings, Max becomes increasingly doubtful about her “powers,” claiming that she conveniently hasn’t brought them up until this point. And then things between Max and Zoey come to a head when she tells him that she’s had these powers for a long time and she’s heard a lot of songs... including Max’s heart songs.

Max, with such utter sadness and disappointment, confronts Zoey. She’s known then, for as long as she’s had these powers, how he felt about her. But instead of facing those feelings, she shoved him away and set him up with Autumn. Max rightfully calls Zoey out on her behavior which, let’s be real, wasn’t great. Sure, there’s no way she probably could have explained her secret superpower (and as she points out very early on, it’s an invasion of privacy to form emotional connections based on things she shouldn’t know — hence the whole Simon issue) but Max didn’t deserve to be treated that way by her regardless.

It’s an easy out for Zoey to tell Max that she doesn’t know how she feels about their relationship. The problem is that not communicating her hesitations and fears upfront ultimately puts a strain between her and Max. Zoey wants to forget about Max’s confession and keep their relationship the same. But Max doesn’t want that; he can’t do that. He can’t just forget about what he professed and how he put his heart on the line. So he sets boundaries. They can’t hang out with each other the way they’ve started to again. Max can’t be close to someone who can’t or won’t reciprocate his feelings.

The person I feel for most in this scenario is Max, obviously. While Zoey might have thought she was protecting Max, the only person she really was protecting was herself. She’s so afraid of letting Max and others see her vulnerabilities and emotions that instead of addressing them, she buries them. She denies them. She deflects them. And that isn’t the healthy way forward. I’m glad Zoey faced some consequences for her actions, but I really do hope that she learns how to deal with her feelings in healthy ways! She deserves to be happy... if she allows herself the chance to be.


There’s a C-story in this episode that I really love focusing on Mitch’s healthcare. David and Maggie decide to look for an in-home care provider for Mitch and settle on a woman with immense experience and a strong work ethic. She’s by-the-book and she’s great at her job. But the problem is that her care lacks compassion; everything is technical and sterile. She wants to put a hospital bed in the family’s living room, and she refers to Mitch as “the patient” instead of by his name.

And then the caretaker asks if Maggie is going to give Mitch what he wants or needs. Maggie then realizes that even though the woman has three decades of caregiving experience, she doesn’t know Mitch. Maggie knows Mitch. She knows that even though chocolate shakes might make his blood sugar a bit high, he needs them. Healthcare is more than just keeping vital signs up: Mitch could have perfect blood sugar levels but be miserable and waste away. Maggie won’t have it.

Maggie decides to let that woman go and hire a chill caretaker who jokes around with Mitch and plays online poker with him. The man admits to Maggie that he doesn’t always make a good first impression but as he dumps ice cream into a blender for Mitch, he surprises her by also throwing in handfuls of spinach. Even though this caretaker is a bit more unorthodox, he prioritizes Mitch as a person while also caring for his health. I think he knew better than the other woman just how important seeing someone as a person, not a patient, first truly is.


The story intertwined with our A-story is that of Leif and Tobin’s friendship. Last week, Leif pitched an idea to Joan at Simon’s engagement party, and Joan (though drunk) really loved it. This week’s episode focuses on Leif blowing off hanging out with Tobin in order to work. They have a pretty genuine heart-to-heart near the end of the episode in which Leif bluntly tells Tobin that Tobin’s antics and partying are going to prevent him from moving up in the company. And Leif dreams of running the company with his best friend someday. Leif and Tobin mend their relationship but the end of the episode is truly the shocker: Leif makes a move on Joan. Turns out all the alone time with her might be budding into romance — or rebound — since Joan reciprocates.

Awkwardly, Zoey witnesses them kissing and now has to deal with the fact that she knows what’s going on in their lives... even more than usual.

What did you all think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!


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