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.
REACHING THE BREAKING POINT
Jade: It seems a bit odd to talk about moments that they should have kissed in an episode where their friendship comes to a breaking point. So instead, I thought we should talk about the moments that brought them to this point. I think a lot of things led to this moment, beyond the immediate argument. Things started in the pilot, of course, when Zoey found out Max’s feelings for her, and she decided to run from them rather than face them. Do you think if she’d owned up to what she heard in that moment, that they could have avoided hitting a breaking point? Or do you think this rift in their friendship was inevitable, given that they were emotionally on two different pages?
Lizzie: I don’t think it was inevitable, because I don’t think their feelings, lack thereof, or, actually, Zoey’s inability to face her own feelings (because she does harbor them) was the reason their friendship hit a rough patch, I think the reason they had the growing pains they did was because of the way they handled everything. Zoey should have come clean with Max, about her powers, about what she heard, and then, if she had, he wouldn’t have been mad about her spying on his feelings and wouldn’t have felt like she was basically manipulating him. And yes, it might have been awkward anyway, but it wouldn’t have been as awkward as it ended up being considering that they went from FEELINGS/wait let’s not talk about them to the same thing, but with the other person expressing their feelings. Communication, that’s what these two needed, and everything would have been different.
Not to mention there would have been no Autumn!
Jade: There would have been no Autumn! (At least not romantically, with Max. She’s sweet, and I think it would have been fun to see her with someone else.) And I think his relationship with Autumn also contributed to this breaking point. Not just because she got a little jealous, and not even because he was hurt when he found out why she’d pushed the two together. But I also think that Max was a little unclear about his feelings for Zoey at first. In his song, he sang that he thought he loved her – something Zoey even remarked upon after. But his relationship with Autumn helped him to realize what he did and didn’t want. His performance evaluation may have been the catalyst, but I think his relationship with Autumn also helped play a part. His conversation with Mo after the breakup might have also helped nudge him along. What do you think?
Lizzie: Again, it’s like a comedy of errors, because they would have all come to their feelings in a much mature, healthy way, if they’d just talked to each other. And I get why Max didn’t more than why Zoey didn’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that if they’d talked about things, there would be no lingering resentment, and then, even if they both understood that it wasn’t the right moment for a romantic relationship, it wouldn’t have been THIS PAINFUL.
Of course, this is TV, so that was never going to happen, but in real life, COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FRIENDS/PEOPLE YOU MIGHT HAVE FEELINGS FOR, okay?
Jade: Seriously, television shows would last for all of 15 minutes if people actually talked to each other on them. Even to say “I don’t know how I feel,” which to her credit Zoey eventually did say to Max. Before the love triangle took off in earnest. I know the love triangle (and argument in the bathroom) caused quite a bit of the tension between them in this episode, but it does make me wonder. The closer she comes to losing her dad, the more she chases after Simon, perhaps because – as she said – she thinks he’s the only one who will understand what she’s going through. It also might be a bit of a distraction from her troubles, to focus on a relationship that can’t really go anywhere because of his issues, rather than what she’s going through. Do you think she’d be as wrapped up on her crush on Simon if she wasn’t losing her dad, or do you think she’d have had an easier time of moving past it once she learned he was engaged? Would she have had an easier time accepting her feelings for Max if she wasn’t losing her dad, or would her emotional cluelessness have always brought her to this point?
Lizzie: I think there’s something to be said about her emotional cluelessness, and I honestly don’t think she would have figured out her feelings for Max, or even attempted to, had she not been forced to, but I also think that without her life turning out the way it did, she wouldn’t have pursued Simon at all. It’s a weird set of circumstances, because Zoey feels safer with Simon, because he understands her grief in a way Max doesn’t, but also, I think, because he understands nothing else about Zoey – how could he, all she’s shown him is her grief. So, in that way, he’s also safer in that what he asks of her, what he knows of her, is just …this Zoey, the one who’s hurting. Whereas Max might, at some point, expect more of her, and that’s scary.
Jade: That is scary, and I hadn’t really thought about the fact he’s only ever really had a chance to see the grieving side of Zoey. It is the reason she’s afraid to lose him, according to her own words. He understands her grief and she’s afraid nobody else will. But while we’ve talked about the focus of death in their conversations on Simon’s side, that is a two way street. She’s not sharing her life with him really outside of her own loss.
The final breaking point between Zoey and Max came this episode, when he told her he’d been offered a promotion and asked her for her opinion. She told him she would miss him, but she wouldn’t stand in his way. Given where she was emotionally at this moment – both because of her dad and because of her general difficulty with her own emotions – do you think there’s anything she could have said in that moment that would have prevented the argument?
Lizzie: No, I really don’t. I actually think she said what she had to say, and Max did what he had to do, and as painful as what comes next is, there was really no other thing that could happen, for them, in this moment, that would bring the story forward. It was either things explode or stay in this holding pattern forever, and no one wants that, right?
Jade: No, we certainly don’t want that. Still, seeing the tension between them hurts my heart. I think you’re probably right that there was an inevitability to the rift at that point. Maybe if they’d been able to honesty address whatever there is between them sooner, it could have been averted. But the season to date had been building to this moment and this temporary rift between them. I like that the show allows Zoey and Max to be on different pages sometimes because that happens sometimes in relationships – both romantic and platonic. But still. Seeing them fight makes me sad! At least we know it doesn’t last forever! And hopefully their friendship and their romance will both be stronger next season for it.