‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ OTP Series: Missed Opportunities in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Best Friend”

When it comes to OTP moments between our favorite characters and ships, let’s be honest. We shippers can never get enough. So as we go through our weekly rewatch of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (not for the first time), Fangirlish author Jade and I thought we’d break down moments that…okay, maybe they wouldn’t entirely have made sense for Zoey and Max (aka Clarkeman) to kiss…but we certainly wouldn’t have objected to a kiss or two!

This week we’re looking at episode 1×02 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Best Friend”:

IT COULD HAVE BEEN A DREAM

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Lizzie: I mean, I guess it would have been weird for Zoey to kiss Max in the middle of her weird choreographed “I’ve Got the Music In Me” dream, BUT considering dreams are like a window into our souls, or something like that, and it didn’t really have to make sense anyway (they were all literally dancing through the office), she could have just finished it off with a kiss. I, for one, wouldn’t have minded. What about it, Jade? Just a sneak peak into the future would have been nice, right?

Jade: Well, I never thought about the two of them kissing during that scene, but NOW I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT, SO THANK YOU FOR THAT. I absolutely think that would have been wonderful in further highlighting Zoey’s (unconscious) mixed feelings about Max in a way that wouldn’t have interfered with the story they were telling. Dream sequences are great ways to show what characters are thinking even if they’re not ready to face things yet, and Zoey was definitely not ready to face her feelings for Max yet. Is it too much to hope for a flirty sexy dream sequence dance number in season 2 with a kiss between Zoey and Max, even as we’re being tortured with romance on the back burner while Zoey works through her grief? Who do I have to beg to get that?

I’M A SUCKER FOR YOU

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Lizzie: I’m beginning with you. In fact, now that we’ve hit on the jackpot that dream sequences can be, I need Jane to have a chance to do about 5 of them next season, especially considering Zoey’s not going to be actually singing around most of the time!

But moving on with the moments, yes. The second one was, of course, “Sucker” and oh booooooy.  You won’t even convince me that Zoey didn’t actually WANT to kiss him while he was singing this. She was literally fanning herself, come oooooooooooon. There are a lot of “I love this man” as my friend vibes coming from Zoey this episode, but girl, we saw your face when he was singing “Sucker,” so forgive us if we never, ever believe you that you’re not attracted to the guy. In fact, this is more than attraction, because if it were JUST attraction, you’d be going for it. Case in point: Simon. So yeah, we see you Zoey. We see you.

Jade: Oh, man, not only is she fanning herself, but she’s also so flustered that she keeps going through her pink note cards after, like she might have prepared one ahead of time for “how to address a situation where your best friend (*cough* future boyfriend *cough*) sings his love for you in the middle of your meeting, and only you can see it, but now it’s all you can think about.” I mean, maybe she would have, because she has a note card with her own name, so she’s clearly thorough. But it’s clear in this instance, her note cards let her down, so clearly the only reasonable response to what happened would have been to KISS HIM LIKE SHE WANTS TO.

But if I can indulge in some Real Talk for a moment, I do think it’s interesting that in the first episode, Max’s song (“I Think I Love You”) spoke to being uncertain about his feelings, which has led many fans to think perhaps even he wasn’t aware that (or how much) he loved Zoey until that episode. And in this episode, Zoey was clearly feeling “Sucker” – fanning herself and all – even if she wasn’t quite aware of (or ready to face) her feelings for Max. These two adorable, oblivious idiots. Oh my god. I love them so much.

JEALOUS MUCH?

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Lizzie: That’s an interesting point because, in many ways they’re mirrors to each other in this season. The basis of their relationship is, after all, already there from the beginning, and how each of them goes from hmmm maybe I have feelings to YES I AM ABSOLUTELY IN is kinda similar, which ahem, I’m not saying it points to endgame, but it DOES.

But back to the episode …it TOTALLY would have defeated the purpose and the setup and whatever, but Max should have just kissed her as she was trying to set him up with someone else. Like, he knew Autumn wasn’t what he wanted, and there must have been a part of him that thought, “huh, weird, why is Zoey trying to set me up with a random girl today of all days?” I mean, I know it’s unlikely he could have ever made the leap to “I’ve been singing my feelings for her” but I’m not sure if I buy that he thought it was all about work, don’t you agree?

Jade: Max might not have been able to guess the specific circumstances, but her behavior was suspicious enough that he could have thought there was more going on. She was not subtle. At all. And one might cancel a dinner with a friend to avoid appearing like there’s a conflict of interest, but it’s a totally different thing to practically shove him bodily in another woman’s direction. That’s not even remotely suspicious, Zoey, good job. But I don’t know if he actually suspected it was about more than work, because Max is equally as oblivious as she is. Also, I think he knows her so well and knows she’s a bit of an adorable, emotional train wreck. On the other hand, if he did suspect, it further explains his big gesture coming up in a few episodes beyond “I need more Max in my life.” But do you think there was a moment in this episode when Zoey started to realize her attraction/feelings for Max, or do you think she’s still just in way too deep of denial to even suspect it yet? She didn’t look exactly thrilled to see him and Autumn out on a date, after all.

MARRY THAT MAN

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Lizzie: I think seeing him with Autumn was 100% NOT WHAT ZOEY WANTED. In truth what she wanted was not for Max to stop having feelings for her, but for it to be a way for her to have Max and not fear losing him, ever, which doesn’t exist. And I get Zoey doesn’t really want to take any risks at this point in her life, but I think that for her to do what she did in this episode there had to be a part of her that KNEW it and just didn’t want to admit it. It wasn’t that she didn’t have any idea of what she was feeling, no, it was worse: it was active denial. 

THE moment of this episode, however, is obviously (and that’s hard for me to say, this episode had more than one moment) when Max shows up at Zoey’s house to bring Mitch dessert. It means so damn much, because he isn’t there FOR Zoey. He had no way of knowing she’d even be there, considering she blew him off. He’s just …that guy. The one that cares, and the ones that does nice shit, without expecting anything in return. And even if Zoey was being more than a little bit unreasonable, he’s still the guy who cares enough for her to both call her out on it, and not hold onto the grudge. And like, okay Jade, tell me, isn’t this not just the “she should have kissed him” moment, but the “she should just marry him and get it over with” moment?

Jade: Oh, god. I love that moment. THAT. MOMENT. You’re absolutely right. That scene means so, so much and adds so many layers to their relationship in establishing that Max 1) knows her family; 2) is closer with her dad than he seems to be with his own and clearly loves him; 3) is the kind of guy to think about what Mitch would like when he’s on a date with another woman; and 4) his genuine affection goes beyond any romantic feelings for Zoey because – as you said – he isn’t there for Zoey. I think that was the scene that made me absolutely fall in love with Max’s character, because that just says so much about the kind of guy he is. If Zoey wasn’t willing to marry him in that moment, I know several fan girls who would gladly have volunteered as tribute!

Don’t forget, he’s also the kind of guy who is there for Zoey even when he’s mad at her, when she reaches out to him, asking him what she’s doing wrong. And that means so, so much. He could have blown her off in that moment, but he was there for her instead, even though he was still upset and confused by the way she was treating him. That becomes such a big part of their relationship over the next few episodes, but it also speaks again to the kind of guy he is and to his genuine caring for her outside of his romantic aspirations. How did Zoey not just kiss him (or, you know, marry him) in this episode?

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist if available on streaming now on Hulu and through the NBC app.

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