Season 1 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is nearly over and Zoey is no closer to starting a relationship with either Max or Simon. For every step forward, Jane Levy’s Zoey seems to take ten steps back. For now, the love triangle has come to a screeching halt. However, for all that this trope is usually derided, the NBC series manages to handle both sides of the love triangle fairly well, which is why I’m so torn about who Zoey should choose.
Zoey’s inability to make a decision is incredibly realistic and the musical series manages to convey exactly why she’s stuck in a rut. It’s all a well-plotted balancing act. Making things difficult, however, is the fact that neither Skylar Astin’s Max nor John Clarence Stewart’s Simon are sidelined in the story and they both have some meaty arcs thus far. What’s more, they’re both relatively decent human beings, so it makes it all the more confusing for me to choose between the two.
Team Max or Team Simon? It really depends on the day (and episode), but I’ve laid out why both character would (and wouldn’t) be a good match for Zoey.
Max: The Loyal Best Friend
Zoey first learns of Max’s feelings near the end of the pilot, when he sings “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family. Too scared to talk to him about it, but mostly too scared to acknowledge her own feelings about his feelings, Zoey sets him up with the local barista. That only lasts for a while, though. Before long, Zoey reveals the truth of her powers to Max and, when she finally breaks out into song, she sings “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz to him. However, she’s still conflicted about her feelings for Simon and so, when Max is offered a job on another floor, Zoey tells him he should take it, complicating their relationship even further.
There are several reasons why Max would make a fine choice for Zoey. For one, Max fulfills my love for the best friends-to-lovers trope. He’s also sweet, thoughtful, and has always been there for Zoey. He even comes to her aid after she bursts into song, all so that she wouldn’t look unstable in front of a very important client during a board meeting pitch. When Zoey’s father falls and she panics, Max calms her down and takes her to see him even though there is no transportation available at the time. He finds a way to get her there because he knows how much her dad means to her.
On the other hand, Max has been walking a very fine line between being a nice guy and an angry one lately. While it’s understandable that he’s frustrated because Zoey hasn’t come to a conclusion about where they stand, it’s also unfair of him to be mean to her or blame her for being confused and taking her time to sort through her complicated emotions.
There’s also the fact that he blamed her for not saying the right thing to him upon his promotion. She told him she would miss having him around, but that Max should take the new job (in the same building). What else was she supposed to say? Max’s increasing frustration with Zoey makes it seem like the only reason he’s ever there for her is if it benefits him, which is not a good look.
Simon: The Emotionally Unavailable Coworker
Zoey has openly liked Simon for quite some time. Once she gets her powers, she’s able to connect with him on an emotional level after she hears him sing “Mad World.” While he’s always seemed like a happy person, Zoey quickly realizes that there’s a lot of pain that Simon harbors, brought on mostly following his father’s suicide. Unlike with Max, Simon doesn’t actually know that Zoey has the power to hear people sing their feelings. Still, they’re able to forge a bond in their shared struggles and pain over losing their fathers. Zoey’s dad hasn’t passed away, but it’s expected that he will die from his Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) before long.
There are several reasons why Simon and Zoey should be together, the first being that she actively wants to be in a relationship with him and has been shown to be physically attracted to Simon — even singing “I Want You to Want Me” to him at the office. Beyond that, Simon has been there for Zoey emotionally, and their mutual pain has allowed her to open up about the fears she has about her own father and his deteriorating health. There’s clearly a spark between them and a lot of unresolved sexual tension, too. Zoey would be remiss not to date Simon at some point in the near future.
All that said, one of the biggest roadblocks for Simon and Zoey is that he’s been engaged for most of Season 1. While cheating never occurs, Simon’s relationship status puts a huge damper on a potential relationship with Zoey. However, things between Simon and his fiancée aren’t exactly great and unresolved issues lead them to break things off. Now that Simon is free to pursue Zoey, there’s yet another roadblock: Simon isn’t in an emotional place where he can be fully present for Zoey (and frankly neither is she). That’s understandable, but puts the brakes on Zoey and Simon as a potential pairing for now.
While many shows are already airing their finales for the 2019-2020 TV season, there are plenty of options coming to the small screen in the not-too-distant future. For some shows debuting sooner rather than later, check out our 2020 spring premiere schedule. If you're already looking down the line to the warmer months, swing by our 2020 summer premiere guide.