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A Triumphant Return for 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist'
January 5, 2021  | By Mike Hughes
 


To savor Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist – which starts its second season Tuesday – you must buy into one tiny little premise.

OK, it's actually a huge premise: Zoey was listening to her headphones inside an MRI machine. There was an earthquake, creating an anomaly. Now, of course, she keeps seeing people expressing their deepest personal thoughts via song.

Yes, that's a lot to accept. But we've seen a teenager gain the strength of a spider, and a guy turn into a Hulk when he gets angry, and (in one cartoon series) a boy turn into an automobile. Unlike some of those shows, this one offers warmth, humor, and intelligence.

Playlist (8 p.m. ET on NBC), which has the TV's brightest color palette, could have settled for silliness. Instead – with the writing and with the casting of Jane Levy (top) – it makes Zoey smart and caring.

She works for some sort of tech company, doing whatever it is that tech companies do. She has an office crush, Simon (John Clarence Stewart), plus a best friend, Max (Skylar Astin), who revealed, via that pesky song thing, that he loves her.

But Zoey does more than fret about romance. Her biggest concern has been her father's degenerative disease. He died in the season finale, leading to this show's finest moment – at the wake, a marathon performance of American Pie, with people alternating as leads as the camera glided smoothly around the room.

Playlist can do that because it has stocked its cast with singers. That includes Zoey's gender-fluid neighbor Mo (Alex Newell), who sings the first notes of the second season.

The new season starts six weeks after the funeral, with Zoey still in reclusive mourning. When she does emerge, she finds new friendships have formed, and the office has changed: The boss (Lauren Graham) has been promoted; Max's job has gone to a well-meaning chap who lacks social skills. That role goes to Harvey Guillen, who shows comic brilliance as Guillermo in What We Do in the Shadows.

Already a good show, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist gets even better.

 
 
 
 
 
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