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BWW Blog: Zoey's Extraordinary TV Show

The new gold standard in musical television.

BWW Blog: Zoey's Extraordinary TV Show

What's the show that you geeked out to the most in middle school? Not just the show that you loved, but the show where your devotion went beyond weekly viewership. The one that inspired hours of watching Youtube compilations, hypothesizing on Tumblr fan blogs, and yes, even reading fanfiction. For many of us musical-loving members of Gen Z, that show was Fox's Glee. Musical Theatre royalty singing about their feelings and managing to capture that so-bad-it's good 2000s high school drama? Twelve-year-old me couldn't get enough.

In my naivety, I never thought that another musical television show could live up to Glee. It was too perfect. Shows like Smash and Rise were both wonderful, but nothing could compare to that perfect mix of teen angst and Kristin Chenoweth cameos. However, I am pleased to announce that I have been proven wrong. There is a new, extraordinary show, that I believe surpasses Glee as king of musical television.

When I first heard of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, I was excited and intrigued. As a fan of both Marvel movies and musicals, a show about musical superpowers seemed right up my alley. When quarantine hit, I found myself with a substantial amount of extra TV time, so I started episode one.

In the arts, there is no such thing as perfection. There is always a flaw to be found, be it subjective or objective. A note that is slightly off-key, a line that felt ingenuine, a laugh that felt forced. However, in my honest opinion, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is perfect television.

The story is attention-grabbing and pulls at the heartstrings. A young software developer gains superpowers, where she uncontrollably hears other people's inner thoughts and emotions through song and sings her own. While the powers distract and annoy her at first, she begins to see the positives to her not-quite-diegetic musical numbers. Through song, she gains a way to communicate with her father, who is unable to speak due to a terminal illness.

From the first episode, you can feel the joy and passion in every performance. From the hilarious awkwardness of our heroine to a single solo from the woman behind her in line at a coffee shop, every cast member is giving it their all. The vocals are all stellar, especially from musical theatre veterans Skylar Astin and Alex Newell. Even performers who you would never expect to sing have earth-shattering numbers. I never knew that I wanted to hear Lorelai Gilmore sing Ke$ha's Tik Tok, but wow, does Lauren Graham have a killer voice!

What sets apart Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist from other musical television shows, in my opinion, is that everything feels genuine. An often lodged complaint about musicals is that the songs feel random. With many musical television shows, it can feel that way. On Glee, when Finn stood up to sing Paul Anka's "(You're) Having my Baby" to his pregnant girlfriend's family, I have to admit that I laughed. It just seemed so silly to me, singing just out of nowhere. However, in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, when people are singing about their deepest and darkest moments, it feels genuine, like they are confiding in us.

Every musical number in Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is a textbook example of what musical numbers in musicals are supposed to be: further insight into a character's emotions and desires. Zoey can hear inner thoughts and emotions, as she and the audience get a deeper look into the psyche of her friends and family. As the old musical theatre adage goes, if the emotion is too great for words, sing it. The cast of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist answers that call.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist is, as the title suggests, extraordinary. Whether you're missing musical theatre or just looking for your next binge-watch, I cannot recommend it enough.


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From This Author Student Blogger: Emma Rose Dorsch