Z is for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist #AtoZChallenge #PandemicAlphabet

Let me tell you the story about a girl named Zoey who goes for an MRI and comes out with a superpower–the ability to hear people’s “heart songs” aka the songs that express what they’re really thinking and feeling. For, lo, that is what Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (NBC/Peacock/Hulu) is about.

And, yes, that is Lauren Graham on that poster along with Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows as well as Mary Steenburgen. So you can see there is a quality cast, to start.

The most fun part about the heart songs is that they’re usually (always) accompanied by full on dance routines, choreographed by none other than Mandy Moore (of So You Think You Can Dance fame–also La La Land, if you’re into that).

Here’s one of my favorite SYTYCD routines Moore choreographed for, um, reasons 100% related to this show.

Anyway, the point is that Mandy Moore is an amazing choreographer and I love her, and her routines make the show fun to watch. That does mean that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is, indeed, technically a musical, though it’s more TV show featuring musical numbers and less non-stop singing. It’s like the difference between Dreamgirls and, say, What’s Love Got to Do With It?

…I have really got to update my pop culture references.

I will say that Moore’s choreography was probably the biggest draw for me because CHECK OUT THE BODY ROLL IN THIS SCENE.

It is honestly the moment I knew I would keep watching. Well, that, and Zoey saying “Oh great, a dance break.” GIVE ME ALL THE DANCE BREAKS. Just inject them straight into my veins.

I should also note that in some instances you can tell the cast was chosen largely for their acting ability and their willingness to sing more so than their actual singing ability–by which I mean that except for a few notable exceptions, they are serviceable but not necessarily phenomenal singers because the focus is more on the characters than the singing. This is not a slam, but just a heads up if you are very into singing.

That said, Bernadette Peters and Renée Elise Goldsberry both show up, so that’s something to look forward to.

Other important things you should know:

  • There’s a love triangle between Zoey, Max, and Simon. Zoey has the hots for Simon but they also start connecting on an emotional level, and Max is Zoey’s best friend who is really into her. I really like the way this is explored, I have to say.
  • Mo is a gender fluid character who uses he/him pronouns but usually dresses in what is typically considered women’s clothing and wears them much better than I do. Mo is played by Adam Newell who played Unique on Glee.
  • There is a lot of really super great friendship stuff here, not only between Max and Zoey but also with Mo and Zoey and in season two with almost all of the characters.
  • The family stuff is A+++ as well. See above re: Peter Gallagher and Mary Steenburgen.

Oh and while I’m talking about the family stuff, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out what my friend Carey said in response to one of my tweets about the show.

So, yes, ahem. Sometimes the show can punch you in the feels, which I know isn’t typical of the things I have been recommending this past month but also it is kind of unavoidable because most of the family stuff revolves around the fact that Zoey’s dad has progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a degenerative brain disorder. Based on that you can guess what the final twist is in the series premiere that makes Zoey willing to deal with her powers.

I super love this show and think it’s a great time, and I am always excited to watch it. The singing and the dancing (and the general humor) add some levity when there are serious topics, the characters are all nuanced and intriguing, and the world and set design are inviting and bright. I don’t know about you, but those are all things I need to make getting through this last stretch of the pandemic bearable.

And that’s it! I have officially completed the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for 2021! Thank you so much for going on this journey with me as I shared what I have found to be comfort reads/watches during this, our second (!) April in the pandemic.

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