Length: 12 x episodes (43-44 minutes each), two seasons available
At one point or another, in the lives of most right-thinking people, the thought occurs, “jeez, it’d be beaut to live in a musical.” Spontaneously bursting into song, dancing through inexplicably choreographed numbers with groups of strangers, your every thought manifested into a catchy little tune - perfection, right?
Well, if Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is to be believed - and we reckon it should be - it’s something of a double-edged sword. But let’s start at the beginning…
Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) is a mild-mannered programmer working for San Francisco tech firm, SPRQ Point. One day, while getting an MRI, an earthquake occurs and something weird happens. A massive playlist of songs is downloaded into her brain and, somehow, she now has the ability to perceive the most secret, hidden desires of others.
Oh, and we might have neglected to mention, she perceives those secrets in the form of song and dance numbers!
It’s a great, creative and very funny premise for a show. Because as fabulous as musicals are, they rarely resemble anything that could be described as “the real world”. So, Zoey having to get through an ordinary day - while trying not to react to musical numbers only she can see and hear - is often hilarious.
It helps that Jane Levy is absolutely superb in the titular role, nailing both the comedic and emotional beats. Because, while the show is bright and funny, there’s also some emotional heft here. Season one’s arc involving Zoey’s terminally ill father, Mitch (Peter Gallagher) is both beautifully acted and genuinely moving.
Which is impressive for a show, the premise of which is basically: a nice lady’s brain turns into magic emotion karaoke!
Levy is capably backed by a supporting cast, including Will-they-or-won’t-they-Bloke #1, Simon (John Clarence Stewart) who bonds with Zoey over tragedy, and Will-they-or-won’t-they-Bloke #2, Max (Skylar Astin) who is Zoey’s bestie but has developed feelings for her over time.
This love triangle offers a fun, if occasionally infuriating, bit of romance to the story and plenty of opportunities for good musical numbers.
However, MVP of the entire show is Zoey’s genderfluid neighbour, Mo (Alex Newell) who brings mountains of sass and a gorgeous voice to boot. Mo is the first person Zoey tells about her powers and their bond is a frequent highlight.
You also have excellent character actors like Mary Steenburgen who plays Zoey’s mum Maggie, and Lauren Graham who plays Zoey’s boss Joan.
Season two is now on Stan, and frankly, the timing couldn’t be better. Zoey’s still recovering from the trauma of the tragic events at the end of season one but is trying to pick up the pieces. Soon drama kicks off at work, in her friendships and her love life, so the song and dance begins anew.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a fun and vibrant show with a killer premise. It’s chockers with great acting and singing, toe-tapping music and an appealing sweetness.
It’s also the closest most of us will get to living in a musical. Particularly after Bunnings issued us that lifetime ban for trying to “exchange a song” for a sausage sizzle snag. Mongrels.
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