Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist stands as a one-of-a-kind series that delivers a variety of musical performances on a weekly basis, but not in a way that viewers have seen before on shows like Glee or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. With Zoey acquiring a set of superpowers that give her insight into the people around her via musical numbers nobody else can see, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist provides pure escapism with a cast stacked with powerhouse singers on NBC. Executive producer Paul Feig spoke with CinemaBlend about the current Season 2, and he broke down what helps the show stand out.
Given that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist delivers escapism (including with an absence of COVID in Season 2) but infuses it with a healthy dose of drama and development, Paul Feig explained the process of striking a balance with the storytelling following the very heavy death of Peter Gallagher’s Mitch:
Even just the few episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 that have aired so far have shown off how the show avoids frivolity. For every Broadway-worthy number like “Hello Dolly” and “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” to deliver over-the-top fun, there is a performance like Skylar Astin’s hilarious but heartfelt “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”/Boyz II Men mashup, Jane Levy’s intense “Nowhere to Run” dream sequence, and the Clarke family’s “Carry On.”
It’s no procedural that will be confused with Law & Order: SVU elsewhere on NBC, but definitely delivers on the emotional front. Paul Feig elaborated on what sets Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist apart as a TV show when it comes to the musical elements as well as the character development:
Zoey refers to the songs she hears as “heart songs” for a reason, as they shed light on what characters are truly feeling, if not necessarily saying. While that has caused problems between her and Max with Zoey knowing what’s going on in Max’s head without Max having the same insight, it has opened the show up to its mysteries for Zoey to solve.
The latest installment of Season 2 actually was a prime example of the emotional extremes that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist can reach, with the programmers hilariously going full Annie to bemoan their “hard-knock life” in the same episode that Zoey was slowly unraveling due to her “Nowhere To Hide” dreams. Paul Feig weighed in, saying:
Zoey sings so rarely compared to the other major characters on the show that the songs going through her head whenever she bursts out tend to come across as especially meaningful… and occasionally awkward for her, as we saw with her unfortunately timed songs back when her powers were glitching in Season 1. Still, she has already gotten to sing in more than one episode in Season 2, which has meant Jane Levy showing off her musical talents.
I asked Paul Feig if Zoey singing more was a goal for the second season, or just a perk of the plot for the first few episodes, and he shared:
Not all of Zoey’s songs when she was glitching were as adorable as her “I’m Yours” performance to Max, and Jane Levy went all out with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” as Zoey was very inconveniently in an office with Joan and Leif, trying and failing to fight against singing and dancing. It really showed off Levy’s skills as a comedic actor in a season when she was so often called upon for drama with Peter Gallagher’s Mitch, and she’s delivering no less in Season 2.
As for casting Jane Levy and the rest of the stars of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, it’s no coincidence that even the characters who seem unlikely to burst into song (including Zoey herself) have the pipes to deliver showstoppers. Paul Feig explained:
Skylar Astin’s duet with Jane Levy to Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” in a recent episode showcased the show’s ability to combine heart songs with real-life singing, as Max got the instrumental backing on his half of the song while Zoey went a capella during her half. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is already going in some new directions in Season 2, and there’s no reason to doubt that will continue even as a hiatus approaches.
For now, you can look forward to new episodes of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist on NBC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET. For more of what’s on the way to the small screen in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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