Why we need Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist right now
Like a lot of people I was looking for shows to binge and distract me from the stress that is living pandemic life these days. You can choose to lean into horror or drama, but I tend to prefer comedy as my distraction. The things I had heard about Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist made it seem like a show that would fit the bill. Laughs and quirky characters are totally my jam.
Without a doubt watching the logical, analytical Zoey thrust in a world of seeing interpretive song and dance around her was hilarious. Some of the funniest moments are seeing the contrast between the normal life that everyone else is seeing and the Broadway routines happening around Zoey in her office or on the street.
A lot of articles that I have seen out there seem to want to spend their time analyzing the romantic triangle between Zoey, Max, and Simon. While it lends a fair amount of comedy and drama to the show, I believe that it is a subplot to the actual theme of the show.
Zoey is given the unique power of hearing different emotions expressed thru music as the result of her fears relating to her father’s brain disease. The events of the show are an expression of how Zoey is learning to process her grief surrounding the impending death of her father. Facing the brain disease that has changed all of her interactions with the world. A brainiac child who has been somewhat self isolated during her adult years, she is now forced to interact with her mom, brother, and other relationships in a new way. As her personal fears and grief spill into her work and home life she finds a support group that she never expected and definitely needed. From the neighbor who is her total opposite, the brother and sister-in-law who share her pain, the boss whose trust she earns and returns, the new friend who knows about parental loss, and the old friend who shows up for her, she realizes that she does not have to face the whole world of pain and death alone. Even as Zoey loses one of the most important people in her life, she is able to gain a support network who can help her fill in some of the gaps.
As all of us navigate the post COVID society it is so important that we lean into our support systems. Even through social distancing we can find the relationships that strengthen us when we are ready to buckle under the stress. The themes of grief and death are so important and have to often be ignored by popular culture. For me Howie was truly one of the best and most relatable characters, given that I also work as a caregiver. I have worked as a CNA with Alzheimers and dementia, and one of the most challenging parts is helping the families watch their loved one slowly become less like themselves. Howie navigates the space of compassion and support for each family member so well. He knows that he is there to care for Zoey’s father, but he also knows that everyone around him is also being affected by the disease. I have been in the position so often and it is a difficult one to handle well. I felt that his position was well portrayed in the show.
I had a cathartic experience watching the final episode, ugly crying my way thru “American Pie” and the funeral scene. All the times I have watched my patients pass away, all the times I have hugged their loved ones, and held the hands of the dying and grieving. Death is not a beautiful, peaceful experience. However it is one even Jesus Christ experienced, so that our ability to be compassionate can be explored. The ways that all of us have experienced pain and stress in this past year should help us in building stronger relationships. We don’t have to know the exact same things that they do, but we do know that no one lives a pain free life. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist could be a way that may help you see the pain and also the beauty that can be enjoyed in the time that we have here.