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It is funny to me how musicals have only recently made a notable comeback on the big screen, yet they have been making a killing on the small screen for a while now. I suppose it helps that the many of the most popular examples on TV these days, such as Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, have a unique and even strange twist to better lure the audience into its song-and-dance schtick. The NBC hit is not the first series to try this and it seems it will not be the last either.
The fun romantic dramedy stars Jane Levy (2013’s Evil Dead by Fede Alvarez, the director's 2016 follow-up Don’t Breathe, and Hulu's Castle Rock) in the title role of a young San Francisco computer programmer who can hear others’ thoughts, but only through elaborate performances of popular songs complete with lavish choreography. While being strange and unique certainly has worked in the series’ favor, of course, not every musical on TV needs a supernatural edge to be popular and not every quirky supernatural comedy needs to be a musical to be a hit either. Therefore, being a fan of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist really just means being a fan of variety.
That being said, there is plenty of variety to be found in the following nine TV shows and three movies we believe share something in common with the magical musical series. So, while you are waiting for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist to make an eventual, unclear return from its upcoming hiatus, you should have no problem keeping yourself entertained by streaming the content below, starting with the series that first introduced us to its talented star.
Suburgatory (CW Seed)
A sarcastic teenage girl (Jane Levy) is forced to abandon the urban lifestyle she is used to after her single father (Jeremy Sisto) moves her to a new suburban environment.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: It may not be a musical, a fantasy, or even nearly as sweet as Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, ABC’s Suburgatory quickly made Jane Levy one of the most promising leading ladies on TV upon the sitcom’s 2011 debut and until its 2014 cancellation.
Stream Suburgatory on CW Seed here.
Bang Bang Baby (Amazon Prime, Tubi)
In this 2014 movie, teenage and aspiring musician (Jane Levy) falls for a rock star (Justin Chatswin) stranded in her small town, where a mysterious chemical leak begins to cause horrific transformations for the locals.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: This 2014 homage of both song-and-dance features and B-grade sci-fi/horror flicks of of the '60s, named after its centerpiece novelty track "Bang Bang Baby," predates Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist as Jane Levy's first starring role in musical fantasy that also plays on her Scream Queen status while it was still in its infancy.
Julie And The Phantoms (Netflix)
A teenage aspiring musician (Madison Reyes) forms a band with a group of young men whose own musical aspirations died years ago... around the same time they did.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: Inspired by a Brazilian TV series of the name, Julie and the Phantoms is a fun Netflix original series that cleverly combines elements of coming-of-age musical comedy with a ghost story, but more in the vein of Casper.
Stream Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix here.
Deathgasm (Shudder, Amazon Prime, Tubi)
After he is sent to live with his tidy aunt and uncle, a teenage aspiring heavy metal musician (Milo Cawthorne) forms a band with his new friends, who unwittingly unleash the Apocalypse after playing a mysterious composition that puts new meaning "sell your soul for rock 'n roll."
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: For a title like Deathgasm, this hilarious instant cult classic from New Zealand qualifies as a musical, a fantasy, and, at times, can be as sweet as Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, but with enough demonic savagery and gross-out gore and to rival the entire Evil Dead series, including Jane Levy's remake.
A young, aspiring medical professional (Rose McIver) gains the ability to absorb the memories and characteristics of corpses through consuming their brains, which she uses to solve crimes, after becoming a member of the undead.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: While this TV series based on a DC Vertigo comic book is not a musical, iZombie is a humorously horror-centic fantasy that often could be somewhat as sweet as Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist during its five-season run, thanks to its more relaxed approach to gore.
Stream iZombie on Netflix here.
Pushing Daisies (CW Seed)
A successful baker (Lee Pace) gains the ability to temporarily bring the dead back to life by touching them, which he uses to solve crimes, after forming a connection with a gruff PI (Chi McBride) and reviving his deceased childhood crush (Anna Friel).
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: This short-lived but much-loved ABC dramedy is not a musical (yet, at least), but Pushing Daisies is a fantasy (and romance, too) that might be even sweeter than Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist thanks to its refreshingly bright and dazzlingly eccentric approach to otherwise morbid subject matter.
Stream Pushing Daisies on CW Seed here.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Netflix)
A mentally and emotionally troubled, yet successful, young lawyer (Rachel Bloom) chooses to abandon her position at a prestigious New York law firm and head to California in hopes to revive a connection with her estranged childhood crush (Vincent Rodriguez III).
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: Co-created by its Golden Globe-winning lead Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist star appears on prominently in Season 4) may not be a fantasy, but it is a musical, a comedy, a romance, and is quite sweet, despite some very dark and uncomfortably grounded subject matter regarding mental health.
Stream Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix here.
Glee (Netflix, Amazon Prime)
A passionate Spanish teacher (Matthew Morrison) accepts the position to lead his high school's choir club in hopes to revive the spirits of a group of emotionally troubled students despite the attempts of curmudgeonly gym teacher (Jane Lynch) to sabotage it.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: The multi-award-winning, long-running pop culture phenomenon that is Glee may not be a fantasy, but is certainly sweet (when it is not a painful reminder of high school torment) and essentially made musicals on TV cool again before co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk went on to much darker and uncomfortable subject matter with American Horror Story.
Central Park (Apple TV+)
A group of passionate New Yorkers (including Hamilton's Daveed Diggs and Lelie Odom Jr.) accept the responsibility to protect Central Park from the attempts by a curmudgeonly aristocrat (Stanley Tucci) to destroy it.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: Co-creators Josh Gad (who also stars on the show) and Loren Bouchard (Emmy-winning mastermind behind Bob's Burgers) bring the musical to the world of mature animated programming with Central Park - a funny, sweet, and thoroughly fantastic breath of fresh of air amid most of the dark and gritty subject matter exclusively available on Apple TV+.
Stream Central Park on Apple TV+ here.
Smash (NBC, IMDb TV)
An aspiring Broadway performer (American Idol's Katharine McPhee) competes for the lead role in a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, despite the discouragement of endless drama behind the curtain.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: While I would not call this NBC drama particularly sweet nor a fantasy due to its too painfully realistic depiction of show business, with Emmy-winning choreography and its own show-stopping numbers, Smash still lives up to its name as a winning musical series despite lasting two seasons.
High Fidelity (Hulu)
A passionate music fan and compulsive list maker (Zoë Kravitz) finds success running a local record store in her hometown, despite facing discouragement in her love life at almost every turn.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: Based on Nick Hornby's book which inspired a 2000 film with John Cusack as the lead, Hulu's series adaptation of High Fidelity has no interest in being sweet and comes closest to fantasy when Zoë Kravitz breaks the fourth wall, but it presents the connection between music and romance with greater depth and dry wit than most musicals do.
Stream High Fidelity on Hulu here.
Teen Beach Movie (Disney+)
A bickering, present-day teenage couple obsessed with surfing (Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell) find a chance to revive their relationship when they magically become stranded inside a 1960s movie where conflict between fun-loving beach dwellers and a biker gang taunts them at every turn.
Why It's A Good Option for Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Fans: This 2013 homage to the sunny, youthful song-and-dance flicks of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, aptly named Teen Beach Movie, is everything a Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist fan could want (fun songs and cheeky romance with a supernatural twist) and, being a Disney Channel original, the whole family can watch.
Stream Teen Beach Movie on Disney+ here.
Also try the 2015 sequel Teen Beach 2 on Disney+ here.
As far as quirky, highly imaginative, and sometimes musical comedies go, there does not seem to be anything currently on TV that better matches that description than Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. However, is it quite refreshing know that your options are not limited. But, as long as Jane Levy continues to hear the music of her colleagues' heads, we will be here to provide updates, as well as more recommendations for the best movies and TV shows to stream, here on CinemaBlend.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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