‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ OTP Series: Missed Opportunities in “Zoey’s Extraordinary Night Out”

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 1×06 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Night Out“:

AVOIDANCE 101

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Lizzie: I’m not going to be weird and say Zoey should have kissed Max as they discussed his breakup with Autumn, much less as they walked into the coffee shop Autumn worked, where Zoey promptly realized Autumn wasn’t as cool with the whole thing as Max thought, but I will say she should have at least been thinking about the whole thing: how she set him up with Autumn to avoid his feelings for her and what those feelings would evoke in her, and now she’s fresh out of reasons to avoid them. Don’t you think she should AT LEAST be thinking about that?

Jade: I’m a shipper, so I not think she should have been thinking about it, I could easily be persuaded on the “she should have dragged him outside and laid one on him” argument. Or even into an empty hallway. Or the bathroom. Or behind a particularly tall fellow patron. But I’ll agree she shouldn’t have done it directly in front of Autumn. It is sad that Zoey’s refusal to examine her own feelings – and subsequent efforts to run away from them – led to Autumn getting hurt. It obviously wasn’t what Zoey wanted (or Max, for that matter), but it’s sad for Autumn that she got dragged into a situation she was always going to lose in. After all, the whole reason Zoey pushed Max in Autumn’s direction was that she knew he was in love with her. How could Autumn possibly win in that situation? Do you think Zoey’s really ready to face the reason why Autumn and Max didn’t work out? Or do you think she’s still in DEFCON 1 stage of denial and avoidance? 

HOT, HOT, HOT

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Lizzie: There are a LOT of things Zoey isn’t ready to face, and I think the Max and Autumn mess that she herself created is very near the top of the list. Because facing why they didn’t work out would mean facing why SHE didn’t want them to work out, which is even worse, because even if Zoey were capable of examining Max’s feelings without breaking into hives, we know, for sure, she isn’t capable of examining her own without losing it a little bit.

I WILL, however, say that the proper reaction to their next scene and Max without a shirt is “Mo, can you give us a few minutes, or like an hour or two”? I mean, did you SEE HIM, Zoey? Wait, who am I asking, of course you saw him. You started quite a bit, actually. So that brings up the question …was she staring and thinking “Wow, my best friend Max who I definitely don’t have inappropriate feelings for is suuuuper hot how come I didn’t notice before?” or “Why was I even lusting after Simon when I’ve got THIS man for a best friend”?

All jokes aside, Zoey was clearly, ahem, impressed, but was she impressed in a more academic way or did she allow herself to put two and two together and be all like wow Max is super hot AND I got feelings for him too, now what would that mean, Zoey?

Jade: Oh, Zoey was definitely thinking some things. She was thinking some things very loudly in fact. They had to be pretty loud if Oblivious Max even had to point out she wasn’t looking at his face. And who could blame her? I also think Max knew exactly what he was doing when he stood shirtless in front of her. Though if I’m impressed by anything, it’s the fact she managed to look but not touch.

If I had to bet, I’d say she was probably thinking the former more than the latter – “My best friend Max who I definitely don’t have inappropriate feelings for is suuuuper hot, how come I didn’t notice before?” But it’s also interesting to me that the more she got jealous of Max and Autumn, culminating in This Scene, the more she seemed to focus on her feelings for Simon. Leading to some pretty inappropriate behavior that had an entirely foreseeable fallout – and she appeared to regret the fallout more than the behavior itself. What do you think? Is this intentional? Zoey is attracted to Simon, of course. We all know that. But is part of her decision to pursue him now, even in the face of all the red flags and reasons she should not do so, because she’s focusing on her feelings for Simon in order to avoid her…whatever it is she has with Max?

ALWAYS

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Lizzie: You raised a VERY valid point I hadn’t considered before. I mean, Zoey did have a crush on Simon from the start, and she did try to help him before she knew about Max’s feelings, but it is true that it all kinda kicked into high gear as she started avoiding Max’s feelings for her. Maybe Zoey was just trying to convince herself that she didn’t feel anything for Max, couldn’t feel anything for Max, because …well, Simon. That meant that, whatever happened, no matter how much of a mess she made of the Simon thing (which apparently she’s notorious for doing), she wouldn’t lose Max.

Which brings us to the next scene, which is, to be honest, the hardest for me. I would have understood if she’d turned around and kissed him when he tried to comfort her after she made a mess of herself, but fine, she had other things in her mind, and despite how hot the whole scene with him singing “I Wanna Be (500 Miles)” while basically threatening strangers on the street to make sure he could get Zoey to the hospital to see her dad, that wasn’t the right moment for a kiss, either. But later? After he STAYED AND HELPED, AND THEN STOOD THERE ON THE FOYER LOOKING AT HER LIKE THAT AND SAID “ALWAYS”? Come on, Zoey, what in the world is going on with you?

I’m not even saying Zoey had to be thinking about it, or conscious of why she was kissing him, I’m just saying she really, really isn’t in touch with her emotions or with normal human emotions, because kissing him would have been way more normal than not kissing him.

Plus, later, with the reprise? Come on, Zoey, girl …all he got with that was a tiny tiny smile? Like maybe you’ll think about it? How’s that a thing? That’s the moment when you run downstairs, open the door and leap into his arms! You’ve clearly not watched enough romantic movies. Jade, please, say you’re with me on this one. 

Jade: I have asked many, many fans how Zoey could have withstood the urge to kiss – or, ahem, even more – Max in the foyer after that “Always” and they always say the same thing. “Her parents were in the next room!” Maybe it’s my big age speaking or maybe it’s my shipper heart, but THAT IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE EXCUSE.

During the first part of the song, I can understand why she didn’t lay one on him. She had other things on her mind. Rightfully so. Even if Max managed to actually make a scooter ride sexy. (And they were standing awfully close on that scooter. Purely for logistical reasons. But you know Zoey remembered exactly what he looked like under that suit when they were standing so close like that. At the very least, you know she thought about it after, when things had calmed down.)

But like you said…that reprise. Hell, let’s back up and remember it never should have even gotten that far. The chemistry in that hug and with that “Always,” was so intense, the first time I watched the episode, I was certain she was walking after him to kiss him at the door. That I was wrong about that is something I will live in deep denial about to the end of my days. Big missed OTP moment? Or biggest missed OTP moment ever in the history of the show? Not that I’m bitter.

On my first viewing, I also thought the look on her face during the reprise suggested she had realized her feelings for Max weren’t as platonic as she’d been trying to pretend. So how did she not climb that man like a tree when he was singing to her like that? I will never understand. I will say that the show operated on zero Cylinders of Subtlety during the musical montage leading up to the reprise. It foreshadowed several romantic plots – Joan with Leif, Mo with Eddie, Zoey with Max, and Simon taking some time to clean up the mess he made with Jessica before moving forward alone. And, hopefully, eventually finding love of his own. After the scene with Shirtless Max, and that montage, and that song, and that reprise, I will never understand how anyone could look at Zoey and Max and not see that they’re the OTP of the show.

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

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