Tuesday, March 24, 2020

TV Tuesday: Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist

I've been watching a new NBC show, Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist, that is silly, surreal, and perfect when you need some uplifting, colorful, musical fun (in other words, right now).

The premise of this new show is decidedly odd. Zoe, played by Jane Levy (who we loved in Suburgatory and What/If) is a young millennial working for a hot video game company. She's a brilliant programmer but, as is common in that industry, the only female in a sea of male colleagues, though she does have a female boss, Joan, played by Lauren Graham (of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fame). One day, there is an earthquake (this is California) while Zoe is in an MRI listening to her iPod. Afterwards, she can hear the inner thoughts of people around her--strangers as well as friends and family--expressed through song. I told you it was weird! So, as you'll see in the trailer clip below, she hears a stranger singing "All By Myself," a group of lonely coffee shop visitors do a group song and dance to "I Want to Dance with Somebody," and her supposedly platonic best friend at work singing "Sucker" to her to express his love. No one else can hear these impromptu concerts, so she thinks she is losing her mind (as anyone would). She confides in her ultra-confident and stylish neighbor, Mo (Alex Newell, who played Wade/"Unique" in Glee), who encourages her to accept this unique talent and make use of it. It definitely comes in handy with her parents, played by Mary Steenburgen and Peter Gallagher, since her father is paralyzed and unable to communicate and her mother is secretly depressed from the 24/7 caretaking.

OK, let's just admit it - this is a bizarre premise! Nevertheless, I am thoroughly enjoying the music and dancing throughout the show and even appreciating its emotional depth. It might seem trivial and silly at first, but when Zoe is able to understand her father for the first time since he became paralyzed, her weird talent suddenly seems to have real and important uses. It's a touching episode when Zoe can help the rest of her family understand her dad's feelings. And, the music and dancing scenes remind me of how much I am still missing Glee! While there are serious moments with Zoe's family and a colleague who recently lost his own father, much of the show is colorful, fun, and uplifting, filled with impromptu musical numbers. Its seemingly silly premise actually makes it the perfect show for this moment in time, when we could all use some moments of joy.

Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist is an NBC show currently airing on Sundays at 8 pm, so episodes are available for free On Demand or on the NBC website. It is also available on Hulu with a subscription or on Amazon, for $1.99 an episode or $14.99 for the entire season. It looks like seven episodes have aired so far, with twelve planned for the first season.

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