Binge Break: Break out the applause for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

A show about helping people and great music is the exact thing the world needs right now, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist delivers in a brightly-colored bow.


Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

“I’ve Got The Music In Me” episode 102 from ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary playlist.’ (Sergei Bachlakov/NBC/TNS)

Kayli Reese, Managing Editor

Between the gray skies and the unknown time frame of when it’ll be safe to leave the house, I was searching across all streaming platforms for a show that would bring some color into my room and offer a 45-minute distraction from endless social media scrolling.

I’m here to report that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which releases a new episode Sundays on Hulu, was the exact medicine I needed, and I’m sorry I slept on it for a few weeks.

The show follows Zoey (adorable Jane Levy), a quirky-but-not-at-a-Jess-from-NewGirl-level coder in San Francisco. She’s introverted and people-pleasing, trying to make gains at work amidst a cast of all-male coders.

Soon after we meet Zoey, she finds herself with a new superpower, albeit an unusual one: she can hear people’s thoughts in the form of songs after being in an MRI machine during an earthquake. After accepting her ability as something that is actually happening to her, she spends her time trying to figure out the “rules” of her power and how she can help the people she’s hearing. Meanwhile, viewers are treated to fantastic cover performances of the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” and The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”

(Yes, both of my favorite songs are performed by Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin, who plays Zoey’s best friend Max, who she finds out is secretly in love with her. Yes, I’m already rooting for their characters to get together.)

While Zoey tries to figure out the meaning of her newfound power, I feel that her ability highlights for viewers the importance of connections with others. While I sit here watching this show and seeing its cast perform everything from operatic numbers to Kesha’s “Tik Tok,” I’m in a state of missing. I miss talking to my roommate Nicole and her cat as we get ready for class, sitting at a Chipotle table with Brooklyn, and even yelling at Aadit to stop making weird noises when I don’t have my headphones in. It’s been three years since I’ve been long distance from my best friend Emily, and I’m not even used to that yet. It feels impossible to try to get used to being long distance from everyone I love.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist offers a glittery reminder of how much love people have for one another, something also exemplified in the hearts my mom put up in our front window to bring cheer to our neighbors and her kindergarten class, all of whom are all currently homebound. Zoey herself is an example of the good we can do when we help each other in any way we can, no matter the distance we may be from one another physically or metaphorically.

This idea leads into the most touching aspect of Zoey’s power: the ability to hear the thoughts of her father (Peter Gallagher, who’s following me from Center Stage to The O.C. to here). Her dad’s health is declining, rendering him unable to speak and limiting his movements to only his eyes and fingers. When Zoey hears him sing for the first time, belting out “True Colors” to show his support for his daughter, there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the room as viewers watch Zoey hear her father’s voice for the first time in forever.

If none of this is enough to convince you to watch Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, the fabulousness of Zoey’s neighbor Mo (Glee’s Alex Newell) and her boss Joan (Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham) should. All you need to know is that both characters are badasses who are impeccably dressed, and that should be enough.