Out of all the new shows from 2020 to fall in love with, it seemed very likely Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist would fall into the sophomore slump.
So far, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 is confirming those fears.
Mitch and Joan’s departures begin the trail of reasons for the slump, as this sophomore series can’t make up for their significant losses.
The quirky premise of a woman possessing the ability to hear everyone’s innermost desire via song piqued enough interest to check out Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
However, it didn’t seem like the show was living up to its title until the end of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1 Episode 1, when Zoey realized she could use her newfound powers to talk to her ill father, Mitch.
Who cared about the Max/Zoey/Simon triangle? The storylines revolving around Mitch’s illness and the show’s thoughtful, heartbreaking exploration of grief were what kept many watching.
Mitch passed away on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1 Episode 12. Reflecting on the episode solely as a single episode, it represented the best Zoey had to offer.
There were comedic moments (Zoey hearing Max’s heart song just when they were getting intimate), sad moments (Mitch and Zoey’s last dance), and it ended with an unforgettable rendition of “American Pie.”
It was a worthy send-off for Mitch, but did the series let him go too soon?
On the one hand, storylines should end before they become tiresome. On the other, the series still had room to tell more stories about Mitch and the impact his illness was having on his family.
Whereas having Mitch pass away forces the show in one narrative direction. There’s a mourning period, and then Zoey and the rest have to go on with their lives.
Plus, while Mitch’s story was interesting viewing in its own right, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist also used it as a way to explore storytelling avenues it normally couldn’t.
For example, Zoey wouldn’t have connected with Abigail or gain new insight into the deaf community on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1 Episode 9 if Abigail’s dad (Howie) hadn’t been Mitch’s caretaker.
Without Mitch to generate plotlines, more focus is shifted towards Zoey’s romantic life and work life.
During the first season, Zoey’s love life was not its most interesting material. At first, it seemed like the show was taking steps to remedy this.
First, the Max/Zoey/Simon love triangle was resolved on Zoey’s Extraordinary Season 2 Episode 1 when she chose Max.
Letting Zoey and Max be together proved to be inspiring because Max and Zoey’s medley of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “I’ll Make Love To You,” and “A Moment Like This” was the show’s most creative musical number to date.
It was too good to last, though, because they broke up on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 Episode 3. When will TV shows stop making the mistake of breaking up a couple right after they get together?
At least the show has the goings-on at SPRQ Point to fall back on — except not because the work storylines have been disappointing too.
Joan was a standout character from the beginning, but it wasn’t until she left did it become clear how much she elevated the SPRQ Point storylines.
Just having her around as Zoey’s immediate supervisor did wonders for the show because putting Zoey in charge of the fourth floor has not proven to be a great idea. The plotlines boil down to Zoey upsetting her employees, the employees sing a heart song, and then Zoey must scramble to make things right. It got repetitive fast.
Instead of being a boss, Zoey comes across as incompetent and unsympathetic. Joan’s mentoring balanced out Zoey’s workplace flailings.
Aside from the mentoring, Joan was a great character to have around. She was smart, capable, and funny, but we also saw her vulnerable sides. The friendship she had with Zoey was well developed, and it felt earned for them to be at each other’s side during times of crisis.
It looks like the show is trying to fill the void with Danny Michael Davis, but it’s not the same. Davis is a classic example of a show trying too hard to create a funny character. He’s a joke but not in the way intended.
Joan, on the other hand, was always a delight. Even when she was brutally honest about work or insulting Zoey’s fashion sense, she always charming.
A lot of the credit has to go to Lauren Graham for imbuing Joan with such warmth. Graham manages to make dialogue that would come off as catty if anyone else said it sound friendly.
Both Graham and Peter Gallagher (Mitch) are tremendously talented actors — as anyone who has watched Gilmore Girls, The O.C., or anything else they’ve acted in — can attest. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist had the incredible fortune of casting them in such pivotal roles.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has been less extraordinary since they’ve been gone.
Over to you, TV Fanatics!
Do you miss Mitch and Joan?
Is Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist in a sophomore slump?
Hit the comments below.
You can watch Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist online at TV Fanatic.
Becca Newton is a staff writer for TV Fanatic.