Sunday, March 1, 2020

REVIEW: 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist' - Zoey Provides Mo With the Miracle He Needs in 'Zoey's Extraordinary Neighbor'

NBC's Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist - Episode 1.04 "Zoey's Extraordinary Neighbor"

Zoey is forced to address her own faith and why she was given these powers as she attempts to help Mo feel comfortable expressing his true self. David creates a "big moment" for Mitch.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.

"Zoey's Extraordinary Neighbor" was written by Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts and directed by Adam Davidson

It was important for the show to provide more character definition for Mo. So far, he has come across as the magical black friend who has a sassy quip for everything currently going on in Zoey's life. That falls into a cliche character trope rather easily. He was only seen in that role as well. He was commenting on her life without any personal agency himself. As such, it's significant to see this hour delve into his relationship with religion. Sure, the story still fundamentally centers on Zoey and how she needs proof that her actions to help people through this new power are actually worth it in the end. She has her doubts because she sees how miserable Joan is after separating from her husband. Moreover, she sees that Mo is shutting her out of his life after simply talking about the vision she had of him signing "The Great Pretender." Again, the show sometimes has to make its musical choices a little too obvious in order to drive the point home to Zoey. She is able to deduce right away that Max has had sex with Autumn the moment he bursts into the room singing an opera. That scene will drive anyone mad with the notion that those coffee cups he's flinging around are full of the beverage. But it's also the comedic levity of this particular episode. It's tonally different than everything else happening though. That remains a constant problem with the series so far. It is struggling to truly figure out the right balance to find its stories and let them be told. It can be bold and expressive with so many things that it does. However, one moment the action is a comedy and the next it is a tear-jerking drama. That can create a sense of whiplash that doesn't feel earned in the slightest. It absolutely is a victory when Mo walks into his church presenting as his true and authentic self. He is a gender fluid person who uses he/him pronouns but presents with feminine apparel and flourishes. He is a unique person in this world who should be celebrated for his talent. His story about growing up in church though is one of closed-minded bullying though. It comes from the people who proclaim their powerful faith but discriminate against those who don't conform to the basic construct of what is masculine and feminine. Mo is unique because he breaks those barriers. It's just a topic that always fills him with anxiety. He is loved and accepted in this church. But he fears that presenting as anything but male will lead to this discrimination once more. On one hand, it may be about building his confidence. Zoey is supportive in this journey. She presents him with a miracle that helps him see the light that is guiding him through this life. That is important. But it also does just as much to define Zoey as it does Mo. That too can be a problematic framing device. It makes it clear that everything is best experienced through Zoey's perspective even though she may not be the most interesting character in that particular story. It runs the risk of everyone being defined by her and her new ability. Her family suffers from this as well. In those scenes though, they are all defined by Mitch and the need to preserve some grand idea for the man he used to be in this family. David and his wife basically throw a gender reveal party for their baby simply because it will lift Mitch's spirits. It's a party to celebrate him instead of this big moment where they disagreed on what they should do. It means he makes that decision for them and everyone agrees it's a nice gesture. A person can't lose their sense of self even though they are in mourning. That has formed a strong bond between Zoey and Simon. However, that makes everyone else believe that it's nothing more than sexual tension that will eventually create even more drama moving forward. That concern is justified if not all that engaging or interesting at the moment. Again, the show needs to do slightly better in figuring out its tone and the way in which it wants to depict these various stories.