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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a musical comedy about a woman who can suddenly hear people's thoughts in the form of popular songs, complete with dance numbers. There’s some strong language, including the word "bitch," some sexy talk and jokes, and drug references (offered in a humorous context). A central theme of the show centers on an ailing father with a degenerative disease who is unable to communicate, and the family’s efforts to cope with the situation.
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What's the story?
ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST is a musical comedy about a Silicon Valley programmer who starts hearing people’s thoughts expressed through musical performances. Jane Levy stars as Zoey Clarke, a young woman who works at a San Francisco startup headed up by the tense Joan (Lauren Graham). When a freak accident seemingly gives her the power to hear people’s inner most thoughts as big musical numbers, a fact she only shares with her neighbor, Mo (Alex Newell), she begins learning more about the thoughts and feelings people choose not to share with others. It’s disconcerting, especially when she learns some surprising things about the people around her, including colleagues like Max (Skylar Astin), Leif (Michael Thomas Grant), and newcomer Simon (John Clarence Stewart). But Zoey soon realizes that being able to hear people’s thoughts may have a few advantages, especially when it comes to communicating with her sick father, Mitch (played by Peter Gallagher) and helping her mother (Mary Steenburgen) cope with their circumstances.
Is it any good?
This high concept musical comedy offers a fun and warm story where music is used to convey the thoughts and feelings that people can't quite speak out loud. Creator Austin Winsberg made the show to help process his own father’s death from progressive supranuclear palsy (the same disease that Zoey’s father has), and this connection gives power to some very heartfelt, and at times sad, moments.
But these poignant scenes don't overshadow the positive, upbeat tone of the overall show, which contains its fair share of comedic moments. More importantly, they give the musical numbers a context that goes beyond simply being entertaining. It’s a challenging balance that has to be maintained, but Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist manages to do so beautifully.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist uses musical numbers to communicate emotions. When is it that cast members are most likely to break out in song and dance?
How can TV and other media be used to help cope with emotionally challenging situations? Does the use of music and comedy in this show help with this endeavor?
If you were to express your deepest feelings in song and dance, what would you perform? Who would be your audience?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love musical TV
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