In that pilot episode, we met Zoey Clarke (a luminous Jane Levy) a loveable coder, who, as the result of an MRI glitch, gains the ability to hear people’s innermost thoughts—expressed in the form of popular songs and bombastic musical numbers. Season one followed Zoey as her father (the exquisite and underappreciated Peter Gallagher) battles a terminal case of the rare neurological disorder, PSP. In season two, Zoey’s father has passed away, and she must learn to live with her grief. More than live with it, Zoey must learn to open herself up to love and to joy, when every instinct she has is telling her to run and hide.
Therein lies the magic of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist; it shows us grief in all of its ugliness. As someone who lost my father to a debilitating disease at a young age, the show became somewhat of a cathartic exercise. But, as I’ve always said, what made Zoey such a great show is that you didn’t have to live through those specific emotional beats to relate to them. If the charismatic performances weren’t enough to reel you in, the musical numbers choreographed by Mandy Moore more than does the trick. It was a joy to see a show that unapologetically wore its emotions on its sleeve; a show always trying to show us something new; a show that allowed its lead character to be messy, fail, and not always get it right.
I’m so sad to have to live in a world of television without Zoey, but I’m also so grateful to have met her.
Watch below as Jane Levy discusses her role on the NBC series, the cliffhanger finale, and her first awards season.
You can read more interviews with the cast and crew of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist here.