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

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 Lizzie and I thought we’d break down our favorite OTP moments between Zoey and Max (aka Clarkeman)…and a few opportunities that were missed along the way.

This week we’re looking at episode 1×07, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Confession”:

THE INEVITABILITY OF CONFLICT

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Jade: Let’s talk conflict, since it’s a storytelling staple to have some temporary conflict between an OTP before they get together. Fans of the show have been divided on the nature of the conflict between Zoey and Max. Some think that it stems from Max’s disappointment that Zoey doesn’t immediately reciprocate his feelings. Others argue that Max’s anger has less to do with how she feels than her emotional dishonesty with him, which has increasingly grown since she discovered her powers (and his feelings). I’m firmly in the latter camp. While of course Max would have liked to have gotten a positive response to his overture (who wouldn’t?), I wholeheartedly believe the show made it clear he wasn’t upset she didn’t give him the answer he wanted. He was upset she refused to give him an answer at all. First she ran and hid from him, then she seemed to tell a pretty outlandish lie to deflect from having to give him a response. And let’s be clear, here. She absolutely confesses to having superpowers to avoid facing his feelings – or hers. Mo even calls her on it, and Zoey admits it.

When he put himself out there, all he needed was an answer. Even the messy, selfish, complicated answer she finally gives him. And, importantly, an answer he completely accepts, just asking her if he can take a little space to deal before they get back to normal. His anger wasn’t because he’s the “Nice Guy” some accuse him of being, and he was just pissed she didn’t give him the answer he wanted. What do you think of the nature of this conflict and Max’s response to it?

Lizzie: I wholeheartedly agree that the problem was that Zoey avoided saying anything about his feelings and instead tried to distract him with her powers. I also think, in some way, it hurt him that she ONLY decided to share about his powers as a ploy to distract him, and that she hadn’t shared before. It’s like it compounded everything he was feeling, which was pretty much along the lines of: She doesn’t even care about me as a friend if she’d keep this from me, and then only tell me as a way to distract me.

Plus, there’s the fact that the revelation makes it clear to Max that Zoey has basically been manipulating him, and I think he’s pretty justified in feeling angry. He isn’t feeling angry she doesn’t know how she feels about him or that she didn’t immediately confess her own feelings, he’s feeling angry about the fact that she didn’t respect him enough to be upfront about him, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, had apparently been using his feelings to manipulate him for a while. 

DISTRACTION WILL SAVE YOU!

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Jade: Oh, yeah, I definitely think it makes sense for Max to be angry that she’d used her powers to manipulate him, even if she didn’t mean it maliciously. But if he was angry about her manipulation over a period of just a couple of months (at most), imagine how Simon will feel when he discovers Zoey’s been manipulating him this whole time. Still, you make a good point about him feeling like Zoey doesn’t even care about him as a friend if she’s kept this from him. And, also…ouch, because that reminds me of his reaction to discovering the reason she’d set him up with Autumn. Zoey couldn’t even look at him while she admitted her motives, and I couldn’t blame her. That hurt

But let’s talk a little more about her confession as an attempt at avoidance. Like you said, Zoey had the choice to be honest with Max about her feelings this week, but she chose to come clean about her superpowers, instead. Putting aside her motives for the moment, it’s interesting that Max is the first person she’s completely honest with in the show, outside of Mo – and her father, who couldn’t tell anybody her secrets even if he was so inclined. In fact, going into the second season, he and Mo remain the only two with whom Zoey has been completely honest. And the purpose for letting Mo in on the secret (storytelling necessity and expositional convenience) was vastly different than it is with Max.

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Maybe it’s my rose-tinted shipper glasses, but I think it’s very telling that Zoey found it easier to tell Max, “I’m a mutant with a superpower that you absolutely are not going to believe” than it was to tell him, “You wanted to know how I feel and…I don’t know, except I know I don’t want to lose you.” I also find it notable that she takes Mo’s advice insofar as telling Max the truth because she doesn’t want to lose him, but she doesn’t at any point take that advice and extend it to other people. She doesn’t tell Simon the truth, for example, about her superpowers, and it’ll be a bit before she talks to him about her feelings for him, as well. Part of it may come down to the fact that she wanted to tell him about her superpowers in the Pilot, before she learned of his feelings. But as a shipper, it feels like there’s more to it than that. Is that just my shipper bias talking?

Lizzie: I don’t think it is. I think she told Mo because he was there and she had to tell someone, but also because if Mo didn’t believe her, well …that was okay? But she told Max because she had to be totally honest with him about SOMETHING, and she kinda figured this would suffice? 

But all in all, I think it goes back to the fact that Zoey trusts Max above everyone. She would have told him in the Pilot if he hadn’t started singing about his feelings, and from that point on the reason she didn’t tell him wasn’t that she didn’t want to confide in him, but that she didn’t want the fact that she confided in him to open up that whole other can of worms. 

The best relationships, are, I think, always based in trust, and Zoey and Max, despite their ups and downs and the journey they both have to go through, clearly trust each other, and I think this proves it. The fact that Zoey confesses also, I think, puts them way ahead of any other potential relationship *ahem* in that they’ve already dealt with the fallout of her secret, and I’m preeeeeeeeeeeeeeettty sure that it’s not going to be pretty when she has to confess to other people.

GO BIG OR GO HOME?

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Jade: It’ll definitely be a train wreck when she tells other people. But it also addresses what would probably be the biggest source of conflict between Zoey and Max and the biggest thing that would stand in the way of them getting together. Trust is very important to a relationship, and things may be rocky for them at the moment, but we both know they’ll eventually work through this and get back to that honesty and trust that they’ve clearly shared. Which makes the only remaining obstacles – really – her crush on Simon, and her unwillingness to really confront her feelings for Max. Both of those are fairly easily resolved with a little personal growth on her part, which is the whole point of the show.

So, what are your feelings on Max admitting his feelings to Zoey via a flash mob? This is another area where fans are divided. Some think that it was Too Much and that Zoey didn’t like the big scene. Others think it was an intentional parallel with Mitch loving  his Big Moments, and they point out Zoey called it amazing and never said she was embarrassed by the gesture. She just wasn’t ready for it. Of course, another staple of television is that you don’t waste the “perfect” moment for an OTP to get together on a moment they don’t get together. Any more than you typically have the “perfect” proposal, only to have the response be “No.” So what do you think? Super cute, or too much?

Lizzie: Personally, it was too much. But that’s for me. If someone did it TO ME, it’d be mortified, I think. I think, also, the problem for Zoey was that she wasn’t ready, she didn’t seem that upset about the moment in particular. I do think he went a bit big, in that, even if she’d been giving him mixed signals, there was no way he was sure of her feelings, and to go for that big a gamble when he wasn’t sure was probably not the best idea. I don’t think this is one of those “the bigger the better” moments, and I think she would have likely reacted better, and maybe even managed the conversation they had at the end of the episode right away if he’d done the confession when it was just the two of them.

BUT, OH, THE SPARKS

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Jade: That’s certainly possible. It’s something I go back and forth with, because that would definitely have been too much for me, too. Then again, I’m not Zoey, and some people like those grand gestures. It does suggest a parallel between Max and Mitch, which may or may not be intentional. (It certainly wouldn’t be the first parallel the show has done, if it was intentional.) I also wonder if Zoey would have taken the opportunity of a smaller moment to avoid the issue or willfully misunderstand. Her denial runs deep. By making it such a big gesture, he – intentionally or not – actually made it more or less impossible for her to avoid dealing with all those pesky feeling she’s spent the last six episodes avoiding like…I’d say “the plague,” but you know…

Okay, it seems a crime not to address at least one moment of unbelievable Unresolved Sexual Tension in the episode. Although I’m a sucker for OTPs actually getting along and being happy, I can’t argue that the occasional argument makes for some damn fine sparks. So what was the hottest moment in the episode for you? And can you believe that Zoey chose – once again – to run away from her feelings when she could have kissed that man?

Lizzie: I think the scene in the club, in general, has some AMAZING chemistry. You can tell it’s not the right time, and you can tell it’s all going to explode in a bad way, and it rightfully should, but you can also tell these two people belong together, if you know what I mean? Chemistry is so much of what makes an OTP work, and there are always these moments that plot-wise don’t work at all where you’re like oh wow these two would be amazing together, and I think that’s one of them. 

Jade: Definitely. The writing can set up all the right elements for an OTP, but it’s the chemistry that makes it set sail. Those two could launch an entire fleet of ships based off their chemistry in episodes six and seven alone. Not to mention episode eight, which we’ll get to next week. I already can’t wait, even though I know we have some rocky moments ahead for these two lovable dorks!

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