Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist - Season 1

‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Re-watch Roundtable: “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor”

We love Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist around here. A whole lot. And, well, we are in the middle of a quarantine, with very few new content coming till 2021.

So, yes, we are doing a re-watch of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and yes, we are going to be talking about every episode as if it just aired. Because, we love the show, you love the show, and frankly, what else are we going to do to fill the time?

Joining me this week for “Zoey’s Extraordinary Neighbor” are Fangirlish writers Lizzie and Jacqueline as well as guests Amanda and Jacquie.

Which song this episode was your favorite, and why was it one of Mo’s?

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Jade: As great as “Con Te Partiro” was (and it really, really was), “The Great Pretender” gets me every time. Alex Newell has an amazing voice, and there’s so much quiet emotion in the song. I really hope in the second season, we get many, many more songs from him.

Lizzie: “The Great Pretender” by far. It’s one of those numbers that just makes you feel, and it’s one that’s been on repeat on my Spotify since this episode aired, which isn’t every number. There’s just so much of Mo in it, and also …so much of everyone. It’s hard to make songs like this one universal, but Alex Newell is THAT good.

Jacqueline: The Great Pretender sung by the AMAZING Mo!! He sang it beautifully and it so fit with his storyline. In my opinion, Mo has one of the strongest voices on that show and seeing him sing anything is a delight but that was my favourite!

Amanda: I love both of Mo’s songs this episode though if I have to pick one it goes to “This Little Light of Mine.” It is such an amazing and wonderful moment for Mo being able to face his fears and open up to his church using the lyrics to say he’s not going to hide who he is anymore, that he’s gonna “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!” The song is such a classic church song, one that children learn early on in Sunday School, but Alex Newell’s vocals just blow it away making it phenomenal. 

But also I’m gonna say that “Con Te Partiro,” deserves a shout out because Skylar Astin singing opera and leaping around with those coffee cups? Genius!

Jacquie: The rebellious troublemaker in me wants to pick “Con Te Partiro” just because of how the question was posed. But “This Little Light of Mine” is so bright and uplifting, and absolutely killed by Alex Newell, how could I pick anything but! I’m a big fan of church choirs and unapologetic self-acceptance – so that number is a win-win for me.

Mo is a huge fan favorite – and for good reason. What do you like most about his character, and what would you like to see from his story in the future?

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Jade: Mo’s an amazing character, and while much of that comes from what’s on the page, it’s the things that Alex Newell brings to the character that really make him such a wonderful part of the show that I – and many others – look forward to seeing from week to week. He’s got an amazing singing voice, and he often gets some of the best lines. I love that he can deliver brutal honesty in a way that makes it clear how much he cares. I think it would be easy to initially look at Mo and think he’s a character who has such a strong sense of self, but this episode really showed that he struggles with moments of vulnerability and self-doubt like everyone else. Zoey starts to connect to the world because of her powers, but it’s really Mo that helps her understand how to do it. He’s the one who helps her navigate the complex emotional landscape, and I loved seeing how they went from near-perfect strangers to such wonderful friends by the end of the season. Mo isn’t just the kind of friend we all wish we could have; in many ways, he’s the friend we all wish we could be.

Lizzie: I like that Mo is just …Mo. Sure, this episode he struggles with just that, but that’s part of the journey, and it made me appreciate him even more. Mo is also a tremendous friend to Zoey, probably the friend she needed in this particularly weird time in her life. Sometimes life puts the kind of people we need in our path, and it feels like Mo and Zoey were just that for each other, which is another thing I really like, it’s not one-sided, it’s not just Mo caring, Zoey cares too, and by caring for Mo, she learns to open up so much, to see the world differently. Yes, it’s the songs, but it’s also the unconditional support of her friend. 

Jacqueline: I LOVE how Mo brings the truth tea. He really does have the best lines! I love how he is supportive of Zoey yet tells her how it is. Zoey is so lucky to have Mo in her life, we all need a Mo in our lives! I’d like to learn more about Mo’s relationship with his mother. He mentioned her in this episode and it would be amazing to meet her. 

Amanda: What I love about Mo is that he is the supportive, amazing friend that everyone needs in their life. And even though he is always there to help Zoey he’s also not afraid to call her, or anyone else for that matter, out when they’re wrong. He is the sounding board that Zoey needs to help her navigate not only her powers but learning how to deal with and face her own emotions. I would love to know more about Mo’s mother since he mentioned her, it would be awesome to have her show up. I think it would be interesting to know more about Mo’s different creative endeavors, the man sews, paints, sings, DJs, cooks, has amazing fashion and decorating sense, is there anything he can’t do creatively? 

Jacquie: When we first meet Mo, he is so confident and almost all-knowing in a sense. I love that vibe and how it pairs well with Zoey being the complete opposite. Though Mo exudes acceptance, I love how as the show progressed we got to see how even he struggles with that. Vulnerability is what really makes you care about a character, so this whole episode breaking Mo out of that ‘I have everything figured out’ mold really endears him to you even more. He has his share of insecurities, but stands apart as one of the only characters to face them head-on – after some initial (but short lived) hesitation of course! He’s only human. Moving forward I’d love to see even more of Mo setting an example for Zoey and everyone else. Stay bold and beautiful!

The concept of how fear – and faith – drives us was prevalent this episode in Mo’s story, but also in the stories of Bonnie (the agoraphobic neighbor) and Zoey (and her relationship with Simon). How do you think the show handled these themes? Were you satisfied with how they were handled, or is there something more you would have liked to see?

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Jade: I think both fear and faith often drive our actions and decisions, and I don’t think we’re always aware of how much that’s true. (Also, it should be noted that it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious faith; it could be faith in ourselves and our own abilities, faith in the people we love, etc.) While I think the show handled both themes well, it was really the theme about fear that resonated strongest with me. I think it would be easy to take someone like Mo, who seems to be very self-confident and self-assured, and write them in a way that sets aside or denies the character his own moments of self-doubt. But the fact of the matter is that everyone feels negative emotions like fear, self-consciousness, and self-doubt. It’s important to allow every character the time and space to explore these emotions – and to show that, even at our darkest moments, whether it’s faith in a higher power, in a friend, or in a neighbor with eerily prescient powers we don’t have to go through things alone. 

Lizzie: I grew up in a very religious family, went to a Catholic school, so I’ve been around the concept of faith all my life, and though not personally, I’m at least tangentially familiar with the fear of, in some way, shape or form, going against that faith, of the fear of not being accepted, which is what Mo is going through. In that regard, I think the show did amazingly, even if they did make a conscious decision to present the good side. I’m not against this decision – I don’t think this should could have or wanted to delve into the other side, but I think it’s important to mention that not everyone gets a chance to reconcile both the way Mo did. Not everyone is as open and loving and accepting as Zoey, and his entire congregation was. 

Jacqueline: I really like how the show handled faith. It is clearly very important to many people and it should be respected – but not everyone is religious. I liked watching Zoey trying to help her friend when she knew nothing about religion she just wanted to be there for Mo. Mo’s fear of rejection is totally understandable given his past experience. The church is very important to him and we all want to be accepted by those we care about. I really liked the pastor in the episode. Mo’s church is very different than the one I grew up in – and that gives me hope! I was so amazed when Bonnie came out of her apartment – I agree with Mo, it was a miracle. Everyone has their fears and struggles and Zoey is now in a unique position to see that and help. I’m so glad she can help because if she couldn’t how depressing would that be? 😉

Amanda: Faith is often what people turn to, for help guiding them in times of fear and uncertainty. As Zoey doesn’t really have a defined faith of her own she jumps into research mode immediately and starts consulting her friends and family, as well as books on the subject. Through faith in themselves and others, we see both Bonnie and Mo facing their fears directly, happier for having done so. Yet Zoey is still struggling to come to terms with her own fears, something that we see throughout the season with her. Zoey is aware of and acknowledges some of her fears, but is still unsure how to face them, choosing instead to ignore them or push them aside. I think what this episode really does well, was to show that there is no definitive faith that works for everyone, faith is a personal journey, one that relies on an individual’s own beliefs and needs.

Jacquie: Fear can convince us of just about anything. Combating it requires a lot of support and guidance – and that is where faith comes in. While this episode did center on faith in the more religious sense, many of the characters actually find their faith in the people around them. And that’s what gives them the strength to be unafraid. Bonnie was strengthened by Zoey showing that she cared – same for Mo. They had faith that Zoey would be there for them. As for the main girl herself – Zoey, being the STEM sweetheart that she is, takes a little longer to find her faith; right now fear is driving and it will for a while. I love this handling of fear and faith because it’s honest and yet inspiring. I only want to see this sense of togetherness get stronger as more characters realize you have less to be scared of when you’re not alone and you put your faith in the people around you. 

Zoey’s powers give her the ability to help people with their problems, but we saw in this episode that Mo was not initially welcoming of this help. Her powers are a blessing, but they can also be a violation for the people around her. What do you think of this line between assistance and violation? Are you sympathetic to Mo’s resistance in this episode?

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Jade: The fact that Mo was reluctant to accept Zoey’s assistance is one of the reasons I love this episode so much. Look, I love Zoey. I love every character on the show. But I don’t think I’d be particularly comfortable with even if my best friend had the ability to “hear” my heartsongs without my consent. It would feel on some level like someone reading my diary – I might appreciate the motivation behind it and still not be thrilled that it happened. There are very few things that are truly private in this world, but the emotions we hold in our hearts and choose not to reveal to others are one of them, for better or for worse. 

Until this episode, Mo interacted with Zoey’s powers as a bystander. He offered help, and he was eager to figure out how the power itself works. But I don’t think he really understood the  stakes, impact, or implications of her powers until they revealed something about him. And that’s absolutely understandable. But while it’s wonderful that Zoey is inspired to help people due to her newfound powers (at Mo’s prior urging), this episode really showed both Mo and Zoey that there may be a difference in what she wants to do for others and what others want her to do for them. Even when the person in question is a friend.

Lizzie: Honestly, I think if it happened to us, we wouldn’t want Zoey’s help. The people she wants to “help” are not asking for anything, not outwardly, and though some people are more open to being helped (like Joan), for some it’s just something they have to endure (like Mo). And yes, Zoey did help in this instance, but the thing is …she doesn’t have all the answers, and despite her powers, she can’t always fix every problem. That’s a hard lesson that I don’t think this season really drove home, but that I would hope a second season would focus on. Not every problem even has a solution, after all.

Jacqueline: Going back to my previous answer – it must have been so hard for Zoey when her friend Mo refused her help. I think I would have struggled with boundaries here – Zoey, didn’t seem to have that struggle. I love that you brought up Zoey hearing people’s inner thoughts as a violation because it is – these people aren’t consenting to Zoey knowing their innermost thoughts and fears and that choice is taken away from them. I think Zoey has to be more respectful of that or at least acknowledge it. We have seen when she doesn’t help someone the song haunts her – so she really does need to intervene. I think Zoey did the best she could with Mo’s resistance, tried to give him space but in the end, she gave him a bit of the tough love he gives her – by just saying what she wanted to get Mo to talk. 

Amanda: We saw in the last episode what happens when Zoey tries to ignore what her powers are telling her to do, which established the rule of being obligated to help that person or the song will continue to haunt her. So of course coming fresh off that realization Zoey throws herself into trying to help Mo, especially because Mo has been there to help Zoey understand her powers. The problem Zoey faces with her power, and we see it more in later episodes, is just because a person needs help doesn’t mean that they want help. The heart songs are people’s innermost thoughts and desires, ones that they may not be fully aware of or ready to face them for themselves. Max points out to her later that “If you can hear my feelings, and I can’t hear yours, that’s not a fair friendship.” Zoey has an advantage with her powers, it’s how she chooses to use that advantage that determines whether she crosses that line between assistance and violation. I completely understand Mo’s resistance, facing your fears, and having others know them is not easy. For Mo, this is a very personal and private matter that he is facing, one that he has been struggling with for most of his life. This means that just because Zoey’s powers are telling her that it’s an issue Mo needs to deal with, it is ultimately up to Mo to decide how and when to face his fears.

Jacquie: Part of what comes with Zoey’s power seems to be this “Right Here, Right Now’  mentality for helping those she hears sing. However concerning Mo, Zoey doesn’t have the benefit of ambiguity that she does with everyone else. Mo knows what Zoey can do and up until this point hadn’t been a direct participant. So to me his resistance was absolutely acceptable. It’s a very relatable, human trait to be the first one to help other people with their issues, only to become less enthusiastic to unpack your own baggage. Zoey at this point is still learning how to relate with people (in general and with her power) so I think she steamrolled Mo a little bit by following her regular procedure that’s worked for everyone else so far. A little sensitivity and gentle guidance go a long way, and that was what Mo responded to best in the end. It’s a fine line, but I think Zoey can handle it.

Joan’s story carried from the last episode, with her singing of regret and the loss of a relationship. How did you feel about this song, in light of her character progression from the previous episode?

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Jade: One thing I hate is shows in which something real and significant and even emotionally devastating happens to a character, and that character acts like everything is fine the next episode. The subject never comes up again. Joan’s just gone through a loss, and while I think it’s for the best that she kicked Charlie to the curb (he clearly never deserved her), that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve – or need – time to process and grieve. And with that grief may come a series of regrets and “what ifs.” Not to the point of taking back her decision or her ex-husband, but still, it’s natural to struggle with a “coulda been” or two. And to even make a dumb mistake or two (and Joan is soon going to make a very, very dumb mistake). So I was glad that the show offered her that opportunity to explore the idea that a decision being right isn’t the same as a decision being easy. It certainly doesn’t mean that one’s emotional response must be straightforward and uncomplicated. At the end of the day, however much she mourned the relationship she’d wanted to have with Charlie, she still stuck by her decision and went forward with the divorce. Because she definitely deserves more than it seems Charlie ever gave her.

Lizzie: Honestly, I don’t mind it – I think it makes her human. I don’t think she’s really second-guessing her decision, as much as mourning. What’s coming isn’t easy, and even if she doesn’t want to go back, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get a chance to just …feel bad. I appreciate when characters are allowed to be, well, human …and this is a good step for Joan, and it makes her a more fleshed out character.

Jacqueline: I was very happy to see Joan’s divorce story carry over from the last episode. If she had just been alright, that would have been weird. I’m glad they showed her grieve for her marriage. Again, it gave us insight into Joan and made her more human. LOVE that Zoey gave her the cake!

Amanda: Joan is allowed to grieve the loss of her relationship, even though she wanted it to end, it’s important to acknowledge that her husband and their marriage were a huge part of her life, twenty plus years is a long time! It’s not that she wishes she and Charlie were back together, but rather the end of an era for her. Joan is a great example of how it’s okay to not be okay all the time, something which Zoey personally struggles with throughout the season. Joan is now faced with recreating her own identity, she’s no longer in Charlie’s shadow, which is a huge and scary step to take, no matter how strong and capable you may be. 

Jacquie: I was not surprised in the least that Joan wasn’t doing as well as she claimed. It would take an emotional toll on anyone to lose someone you once loved, even if you had very good reasons for ending it. Hearing her sing “Wrecking Ball” just humanized Joan even more so, continuing her natural (and totally believable) character progression. TV shows often have a bad reputation of ‘insta-fixing’ certain storylines – creating the illusion that once something is handled in one episode it’s handled for the rest of the show’s run. Just because it’s not a character in the main focus anymore shouldn’t mean that everything is resolved right away. One of the many things I love about Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist includes the small instances (like Joan in this episode) that are more true to life.

We got a little bit of Maggie’s backstory, regarding a prior affair with a married man that clearly was set up as both a parallel with and warning to Zoey. What do you think of this parallel? Are there other character parallels that really speak to you in this series?

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Jade: I love that Maggie was able to have that conversation with Zoey, and to offer a subtle warning, without making it an issue of judgment. There’s no question that Zoey’s walking a dangerous path, but her mother loves and supports her, regardless. I also really loved the conclusion to the conversation, when Zoey admits she’s afraid that Simon is her once chance to connect to someone who understands, and Maggie responds that she felt the same way before she met Mitch. I distinctly remember having a very similar conversation with my own mother…about three months before I met my husband. 

In terms of parallels, I don’t think any parallel in the show is unintentional – certainly not one as overt as this one. I’ve written before about the parallels between the Zoey/Simon relationship and the Max/Zoey relationship. Between that, the Zoey/Maggie parallel, and the suggested Max/Mitch parallel that we’ll soon see in his “big gesture” flash mob, the show certainly isn’t hiding their intended endgame.

Lizzie: I appreciated the conversation, less because I appreciated the parallel and more because I appreciated that in a show that’s, ostensibly, about Zoey’s relationship with her dad, and the grief that comes with losing him, the show took the time to develop Zoey’s relationship with her mom, and give them a solid foundation. They’re going to need to lean on each other going forward, and it means a lot that the show isn’t just focusing on one parental relationship to the detriment of the other.

Jacqueline: I’m so impressed that Maggie and Zoey have the kind of relationship where they confide in each other this way. I really do think Maggie was trying to help Zoey by sharing her experience with a married man. I also get why Zoey wants to stay connected to Simon. It’s hard to let go of someone who gets you. Maggie’s support of her children warms my heart. I don’t know if parallel would be the right word but I’m glad the show shows us Maggie, David and Zoey struggling with grief and acting out of character at times. I know grief is a common theme of the show but I like that they each had their individual moment to show they are hurting – Maggie in the grocery store, David hiding out at the bar and Zoey showing her rage – of course, the David and Zoey stuff is in future episodes.

Amanda: I’m sure, like most children, Zoey didn’t really think about any romantic entanglements that Maggie might have had before Mitch. It puts Maggie in the position to share her experience with Zoey and offer advice and insight to try and help prevent Zoey from dealing with a similar heartache. Maggie and Zoey are very similar to one another, both are family-driven, strong, independent women, who place the needs of others above their own. My favorite parallel is the one most prominent one between Maggie and Mitch’s relationship and Zoey and Max’s. Their relationships are so similar to each other but also, just like Maggie and Zoey are similar, so are Max and Mitch. All of which is of course a giant neon sign pointing to how much the universe wants Max and Zoey together. I love all the uses of parallels that we see throughout the series, whether they are little moments, such as Max and Zoey’s notecards for their manager speeches, or through character parallels like Maggie and Zoey. 

Jacquie: The parallel in this episode had me looking like a meme! Foreshadowing is my favorite storytelling device – it shows the true brilliance and power of the writers. One way to accomplish this is through obvious, or sometimes less noticeable, parallels between characters. Like a window to the future so to speak (that the intended character almost never looks through). There are a lot of parallels between the Maggie/Mitch relationship with Zoey and Max. It becomes more evident in later episodes, but you first get the sense of it here. Maggie is obviously paralleling Simon with her professor. The conclusion could be drawn that her mention of meeting Mitch at the end of the story could very well be talking about Max, even if it’s not directly implied in the moment. But remind me… who’s the other guy directly pining for Zoey again? My favorite parallels of the show are anytime they do it between Max and Simon to show their stark differences in behavior and attitude. I also love the Zoey/Mo parallel that comes later when dealing with Eddie. And let’s not forget the parallels between Zoey and Joan as strong women in charge. Gee I love me a good parallel and ZEP is chock full of them!

We got to see a little more of David and Emily’s relationship with the plot about the gender reveal party. What do you think of their dynamic, and how did you feel about their story with Mitch this episode?

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Jade: I remember enjoying David and Emily’s dynamic the first time I saw this episode, but they’re a couple I appreciate more every time I see them (and even more on rewatches than the first time through). They don’t necessarily agree on everything, but they clearly love each other. I also love how much Emily is embraced by the Clarkes and how much she adores them in return. A lot of comedies go for the tired trope of mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conflict, so it’s a breath of fresh air to have a dramedy that shows loving and supportive extended families. Also, as much as I loved Mitch having that moment to celebrate his future grandchild the first time through, knowing what I know about how the season ends made me appreciate the moment David and Emily wanted to share with him even more. (I’m sure that David will look back and be grateful they had that moment with Mitch, as well.)

Lizzie: I really, REALLY like David and Emily, and I think this was a great episode for David and Mitch’s dynamic. Again, in a show about Zoey, it’s amazing how well developed other relationships are. Sometimes shows don’t know how to manage more than 2 or 3 characters, and this is not one of those shows. And David and Emily, in particular, are a good example of that: they’re fun, quirky, loving, and yet they have their issues, and their ups and downs, like every couple. 

Jacqueline: I ADORE David and Emily – as a couple they are fabulous! Emily makes my heart sing a little with all her wonderful lines. I like how they tied the gender reveal in with Mitch. It must be so hard for Mitch knowing he won’t be there to see his grandchild or give David advice on parenting – I cried with him. I’m so glad David and Emily had the gender reveal party so he could be part of it all. They made a big deal out of it – just as Mitch likes to do….and now I’m all teary again!

Amanda: David and Emily are adorable, their banter is great which is no surprise considering they are both intelligent lawyers, but it’s also a very real relationship dynamic (my husband and I banter back and forth in a similar manner). David asking Mitch for advice about being a father was heartwrenching because it’s David acknowledging not just the big moments that Mitch will miss in the future, but also the little ones as well. It also shows us how difficult it is for Mitch to know what he will miss, knowing that he doesn’t have long with them. By deciding to do the gender reveal party, David was right it gave them the even bigger memory because Mitch was a part of it. They know how much Mitch will miss in the future and wanted him to be as much of a part of their son’s life as he could, but it also gives them something wonderful to remember and share with their son.

Jacquie: Emily is a great character who takes every trope given to women and throws it out the window … and then lights it on fire. She’s strong and take-charge, while also being kind, loving, and generous beyond measure. The dynamic between Emily and David is different from Maggie and Mitch in terms of personality compatibility – but not in it’s effortlessness. It’s filled with just as much love, as shown in how they compromise like nobody’s business! This is a great contrast to how most on-screen couples that follow the ‘opposites-attract’ mold are handled. Their storyline with Mitch in this episode, and in the rest of the season itself, is so heartwarming. On the verge of both bringing in new life and the loss of someone significant, I love every step they take to make Mitch happy – which includes one of the best gender reveal parties ever!

Simon and Zoey have gone from talking at work to late-night texts. The content of their texts seems innocent, but Zoey still realizes she shouldn’t text him back in the end. What do you think about the Simon/Zoey relationship at this point? Do you think they really realize they’re toeing a line, or are they still oblivious to the potential danger at this point?

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Jade: I don’t know that either of them realize the danger they’re in just yet. Zoey seems to have a singularly well-developed sense of obliviousness about her own heart and her own emotions that she applies not just to Simon, but to Max as well. I don’t know that Simon suffers from a similar case of obliviousness, but I do think at this point, he doesn’t want to look at whether he’s toeing a line with Zoey. He has a connection with her that he described as almost magical. She understands him and what he’s going through with the loss of his dad in a way that he thinks Jessica couldn’t – or perhaps in a way he never allowed Jessica an opportunity to do. I don’t think at this point, there’s maliciousness on either of their parts. For Zoey, she’s attracted to Simon, she finally has the chance to be close to him in some capacity, and she doesn’t want to lose that connection to someone she can talk to about Mitch. For Simon, he similarly doesn’t want to lose a connection to someone he can talk to about his own grief. I think in the back of his mind, Simon probably knows that he’s on dangerous ground, but he’s probably justifying it to himself as much as Zoey is. “It’s just a few texts, and what’s wrong with that?” Not obliviousness, perhaps, and certainly not maliciousness, but I do think there’s some willful blindness going on at the very least.

Lizzie: Like I said in our “Missed Opportunities” article, I think Zoey is still pretty much oblivious to what it means, not so much Simon. I just think he’s trying to tell himself this is about his grief, and about having a friend who understands that. However, he should know better, and I think he probably does recognize that he’s kidding himself, he just doesn’t stop because …well, because he doesn’t want to. He hasn’t had anyone to unload this part of himself on, and he doesn’t want to give up that.

That being said, I don’t think the problem is texting per se. I have no problem with my fiance texting a friend – the problem is that Simon is relying on Zoey emotionally, instead of relying on Jessica.

Jacqueline: I totally understand the Zoey and Simon texting, they are both grieving BUT they should both know it’s crossing a line. What would Simon’s fiancee think of him texting another woman late at night? Probably, nothing good and nor should she. As I said it before, it’s hard to let go of someone who gets you – but in this case, they REALLY should. 

Amanda: Even though it’s just ridiculous emoji texts, Zoey and Simon haven’t been friends for that long, so texting that frequently is a little much, especially considering that Simon is engaged. If it were Max that she was texting in the same manner, it wouldn’t be odd because they’ve been best friends for five years, but she’s known Simon maybe a month, at most.  Simon probably sees this as having someone he can discuss his grief with and is glad to have a friend from work that he can chat with, he is also unaware that Zoey has a crush on him. Zoey knows Simon is engaged and exchanging texts at all hours is not going to make her crush any easier to deal with. At first, she may have thought that the texting was innocent, but hearing Maggie’s past experience gave her that wakeup call that she needed. As much as she wants to talk to him, and needs to have someone else to discuss her grief with, she realizes that she’s edging towards that line with him and that she needs to re-establish boundaries.

Jacquie: I don’t support it, I think these two are playing with fire. Grief escalates everything. It messes you up and everything that happens in the wake of that is usually a big ol’ mess. Mo, and everyone else watching, knows how shady it looks to be texting an engaged man that you have feelings for. I just can’t believe that same thought has never once occurred to Zoey or Simon. They both choose to toe the line because they have an understanding of each other’s situation that they can’t seem to find with anyone else. So, they’re willing to risk potential danger to hold onto that feeling. I actually think it’s unhealthy to let all of that fall onto one person. A one-man-band does not a good support system make. Living in denial with a side of massive justification never works for Zoey, so why would that start now. 

Zoey once again displayed a little jealousy over Max’s relationship with Autumn. Do you think she’s aware that her feelings for Max are deeper than she claims, or is she still clueless about her own emotions?

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Jade: I think Zoey may have started to realize that her feelings for Max go deeper than mere friendship. However, I certainly don’t think she’s ready to face how deep those feelings go. Let alone what her jealousy means. She doesn’t want to admit to being jealous, of course, because that opens a door to an entire conversation she isn’t ready to have. Even with herself. So just like I think there’s some willful blindness going on in the situation with Simon, there’s some willful blindness going on regarding her feelings for Max. But that goes back to Max’s importance to Zoey, as I discussed in this week’s Missed Opportunities article. She isn’t aware of the depth of her feelings for Max yet because what she does know is he’s incredibly important to her. Too important to risk losing if their relationship should go south. So it’s simply easier to ignore, justify, or wave away her jealousy than to analyze what that jealousy suggests about her deeper feelings for Max.

Lizzie: I think she’s past the point of being clueless and knee deep into denial. But denial actually requires some understanding of the thing you’re denying. It’s hard to say that she’s clueless when she actually endeavoured to get him and Autumn together, so I think what she’s doing right now is pretending to herself that what she feels is just …friendship. She can’t handle anything else, so this is what she’ll admit to. She cares about Max, and she’s going to do whatever she needs to keep that – and for her, that means never admitting that she might feel anything else. Period. 

Jacqueline: I think Zoey knows she doesn’t like Max with someone else. However, she needs the relations to continue to because it keeps Max safely away from her. She might not be consciously aware of what she’s doing – but that’s totally what she’s doing! Of course, she has deeper feelings for Max! How could she not? But risking losing Max when she is losing her father is not going to happen – or so she thinks 😉

Amanda: Zoey is the queen of being clueless and in denial about her own emotions. She’s not quite aware of her feelings for Max, but she definitely feeling some jealousy about Max’s relationship with Autumn and how quickly they seem to be progressing. Since she is the one who set them up, and because Max is her best friend, she feels that obligation to be supportive of them. At this point, she is likely assuming that the emotions she feels are jealousy that everyone seems to be in romantic relationships except her and that Max is spending all his time with someone else. I’m sure somewhere deep down to she’s a little upset that Max isn’t singing to her since he’s with Autumn. “Con te Partiro” isn’t a song just for Zoey like his other songs have been, and until Max and Autumn break up it’s the only song she hears from him. So even though she’s not ready to admit it, as nervous as she is of Max being in love with her, she’s not ready for him to have those thoughts about anyone else.

Jacquie: Zoey is even more in denial about Max than she is Simon. Though I don’t think her awareness of actually having feelings for Max will come for a few more episodes, she can’t not be wondering what’s going on inside with that beating thingy in her chest. Her behavior is so indicative of jealousy, or at least the unease of seeing Max with someone else. Zoey’s power burst the clueless bubble she was living in. Although she’ still got a lot to learn, to use her own words – she can’t ‘unknow it’. Realization and actualization may come later, but her awareness of something is there. It has to be.

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

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