Saturday, April 18, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist 1x08 and 1x09 Reviews: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” & “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence” (Emotions) [Contributor: Jenn]

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” & “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence”
Original Airdates: March 29 and April 5, 2020

The world is a bit upside down right now and I’ve been a little emotionally overwhelmed, which is why I’m combining these two reviews. I was actually struck by the tone of the episodes themselves, and how they made me more emotional than usual. So I’d like to talk a bit about the way that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is doing a great job of tapping into viewers’ emotions and the way this show has navigated new facets of Zoey’s powers.

First, let’s recap each episode, shall we?

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” centers on two glitches, actually: a literal one in the SPRQ Point watch and another in Zoey’s powers. When Zoey and her family learn some devastating news about her father — that he’s deteriorating and may only have a few weeks left to live — she decides to compartmentalize her fear, grief, and other emotions. Just like the digital tech begins to malfunction, so does Zoey throughout the episode. Where we’d normally be hearing other people singing their feelings, we hear Zoey throughout sing hers.

There’s just one important thing: she usually imagines others’ musical numbers; she’s actually singing hers aloud. And she can’t turn off her “heart songs,” no matter how hard she tries. That’s because, as Max points out, the way Zoey’s powers work is that she continues to hear songs until she helps people. Zoey needs to help herself and come to terms with the diagnosis her father received. But she can’t. She sabotages a presentation. She sings feelings to an engaged guy. She confuses Max. She outs Leif and Joan’s relationship.

And still, Zoey refuses to confront her feelings. Until she can’t anymore. She comes face-to-face with her fears and her grief by physically deciding to go see her family at the end of the episode. The problem is that Zoey’s actions in this episode most definitely have consequences. What are they, you ask?


Zoey sings heart songs to both Max (“I’m Yours”) and Simon (“I Want You to Want Me”), and Max walks in on Zoey singing the latter. He’s understandably upset, Simon is understandably confused, and Zoey is… well, unable to decipher what those heart songs mean. Even though they’re incredibly obvious. I’m not one for love triangles on shows — they’re often cliché — and the interesting thing to me about this one is that I’m not on board a Simon/Zoey train (I’m only half aboard the Max/Zoey one and that half is because Skylar Astin is so endearing). Simon is engaged. And flirting. And having deep emotional moments with Zoey. Which is emotionally cheating.

The show really doesn’t make much of a case for Simon/Zoey: Zoey knows it’s wrong, Simon knows it’s wrong, and we all know it’s wrong. So why does the show keep returning to Zoey’s feelings about Simon? Good question.

Similarly, the show is dragging the Max/Zoey of it all along. I wrote before about how I’m not really compelled by the “best friend” argument that shows use, and this pairing is no different. But Max seems to be pretty fed up with Zoey by the end of the episode, even though he expresses empathy when he recognizes her dad is close to dying.

The one thing I’ll say about “Zoey’s Extraordinary Glitch” that weakened it for me is the lack of Mo. I think that truly impacted my enjoyment, even though I was delighted that the whole episode featured Jane Levy singing for once.


The next episode, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence” returns to our familiar formula, except that it spends a lot of time focusing on father/daughter relationships. Specifically, the one between Howie — Mitch’s caretaker — and his daughter, Abigail, who’s Deaf. While a lot of the episode was spent with Howie essentially trying to put his college-age daughter in a bubble to protect her from the world, the most powerful part of the episode came in the form of Abigail’s agency: a heart song in American Sign Language.

It’s so important that the show didn’t have Abigail suddenly burst into spoken song (thus implying that her Deafness is something to be “fixed”), but rather the beauty is that she signed “Fight Song” while Zoey got the chance to witness. Is Howie right by saying that there are struggles for Deaf people in the world? Of course. Is he right to try and keep his daughter from living just because of those struggles? Well, he comes to the realization that he might have gone overboard in trying to “protect” Abigail. He agrees that she should go to Africa. I enjoyed seeing a character apart from the family have a chance for growth and a real storyline.

I think it was great that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was able to highlight some of the struggles and conflicts that Deaf people face, even within their own families. Family is such a huge theme on this show, and it’s refreshing to see parents as humans — people who make mistakes sometimes that warrant them apologizing to their child.

A smaller plot of this episode is that Max is offered a promotion within the company. It means not working for or with Zoey, obviously, and Max asks what she thinks as his friends/maybe more. Zoey is incredibly diplomatic in her answer, telling him that in any case — as a friend, boss, or anything more — she would be the worst person. So as of the end of “Zoey’s Extraordinary Silence,” it looks like Max will no longer be part of the team.

And finally, there’s an emotional song and dance between Simon and Jessica to “Happier.” It’s unclear as to whether the two are on the verge of a breakup or have actually broken up, but one thing is clear: something is terribly amiss and it begs the question of if Simon told Jessica about his kiss with Zoey. (I assume he did.)

The past two episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist hinged on emotional moments, confessions, and revelations. I look forward to seeing how the consequences of these moments affect the rest of the season.


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