Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Executive Producer Talks Max And Zoey's Relationship Issues, Lauren Graham's Departure And More

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(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, called “Zoey’s Extraordinary Employee.”

Zoey has continued to struggle with the new pressures of her new job on top of her grief and relationship complications in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Employee” added even more stress at the prospect of firing poor, sweet, lovable George. The result was Zoey getting good and drunk and handsy with Max despite the very recent end of their relationship. Still, it’s already worth wondering: could they overcome their issues and get back together?

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist executive producer Paul Feig recently spoke with CinemaBlend about Season 2. When I asked whether the imbalance between Zoey knowing what’s happening in Max's head due to his heart songs while he doesn’t know what she’s thinking is insurmountable for a relationship, he shared his thoughts:

I mean, to me, it's almost like the example of somebody being either more successful than you or having a skill that you don't have in how that affects the relationship. Because you know, before I met my wife, I would date fellow actors. And we were all united at the same goal of wanting to be successful in our own way. And it was always sort of disastrous, because you couldn't openly celebrate something good to happen for you for fear of making the other person feel bad that they weren't doing as well. And so, to me this is almost kind of like a much more blatant kind of playing out of that. Of like, how in support of your loved one are you versus how in competition of that person are you? And you know, even though Zoey's superpower kinda came from an accident and it's a mixed bag for her of whether it's good or not, I love that he has to trust and go like, 'What are you hearing now?’

Zoey and Max may not have the same “superpower” when it comes to deep insight via musical numbers, but Max knowing about her powers and his own tendency to burst into heart songs has kept him from fully being on board with what she can do. It’s also not really anybody’s fault that this is an issue between them, even if Zoey is technically choosing not to be totally open with Max.

After all, Max doesn’t have any choice in how open he is with her, and he might have been as clammed up as she is if not for her power. He didn’t want to go full “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”/Boyz II Men on her! Still, as Paul Feig notes, Max has proven in the past that he can trust her to a certain extent, and having people close to her who know about her powers has been good for Zoey. He’s not the only one in on her secret, even if he is the only one of her two love interests (pre-Aiden, anyway). Paul Feig elaborated on what it means for Zoey to have Mo as well as Max:

You know, it's also a big leap of faith for Max and for Mo to not just think she's insane, because any of us if our friends said they had this ability and these things are happening, odds are we would think they were crazy, you know, or that they were going through something. And so there's something lovely about the fact that they buy into it, they support her, they love her enough to give her the benefit of the doubt that it is happening. But yeah, in a perfect world, you almost got to go, 'Oh, I hope he gets hit on the head one day too, that he can do it too.’ [laughs] Who knows with this show?

Honestly, it would be entertaining if something happened that Max and Zoey somehow swapped her powers for an episode, since it might not work for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist to have two musically superpowered characters at once for long. Seeing some Zoey heart songs without her glitching and going public with her performances like she did in Season 1 could be fun, and the show hasn’t set many rules when it comes to her powers.

Of course, Zoey has plenty on her plate without any more complications thanks to her new job, although viewers got a perk out of her SPRQ Point stress in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Employee." Firing George resulted in an epic performance of Britney Spears’ “Stronger” from Season 2 newcomer Harvey Guillén. Firing employees is new to Zoey thanks to her position that she inherited from Lauren Graham’s Joan, who left in the Season 2 premiere.

Lauren Graham had to be written out due to the COVID pandemic impacting scheduling on Season 2, but I asked Paul Feig if Zoey inheriting the fourth floor was always the plan:

It happened organically. Definitely the plan was to have Lauren stay on with the show because we love her so much. But then when the schedules looked like they were gonna fall apart and everything, [showrunner Austin Winsberg] made the decision to bump Zoey up even more. I mean, we definitely wanted her going into a place where she was being more successful and getting more responsibility. But Lauren's departure definitely accelerated that.

Fortunately, the schedules falling apart evidently happened early enough in the planning process that Joan could be written out organically after passing the fourth floor torch on to Zoey and without ruling out a return at some point. Zoey’s new role has been a key part of Season 2 from the beginning, even before she officially accepted the position. Plus, Zoey moving up has meant Leif getting promoted as well, which has led to some great humor.

Less fortunately, Zoey’s Extraordinary’s Playlist is coming up on a hiatus that will see some new shows take over the Tuesday night 8 p.m. ET time slot on NBC, but not just yet. The next episode will hit the airwaves on February 2, and include more of Aiden, who may have entered the romantic fray in Zoey’s love life this season.

There would be fewer strings attached than Max or Simon, and it wouldn’t necessarily mean that a Zoey/Max reunion can’t happen down the line. Despite their weirdness in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Employee,” they weren’t painfully awkward, and there’s definitely hope.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).