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Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist

A Review - TV Comedy on Grief

If you are grieving but enjoy crazy, nonsensical, comedic musicals and workplace drama, how can you not love this television show? Zoe’s Extraordinary playlist is about a young woman, Zoe (Jane Levy), who works at the tech firm, called, SparkPoint, (think Facebook) as one of the few female developers. While trying to manage her rising career, she also is facing a dying father at home. Her dad, Mitch (Peter Gallagher), and mother, Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), are coming to terms with a rapidly degenerative neurological disease that will likely take Mitch sooner than expecting.

During season one, we watch Zoey navigate the nuances of anticipatory grief as her father loses mobility and the inability to communicate through words. It is heartbreaking to watch, almost in slow motion, as the family faces the inevitable.

So why would anybody want to watch such a depressing show? And did you say it was comedic and included music? Well, that is the catch. The show is somewhat of a hybrid of drama and comedy. It is quirky, and so out there, it will transfix you. Zoey has a secret ability to hear people’s inner thoughts – through music. Suddenly, during a pivotal scene, you may observe a character break into a song and dance routine (think Glee); but only Zoey can experience these deep inner feelings.

Going into the inner heart of someone’s feelings shows another side of their character. Many of the songs are funny and cheerful, especially at the office, but often they are sad and heartwarming, exposing the inner nuances of one’s deep feelings.

As season one ends, we watch Mitch decline in his final hours. It is heart-wrenching, but in so many ways realistic, as I’ve never seen this side of grief portrayed in such a vulnerable, touching manner. Season Two picks up the pieces after Mitch’s death and follows the family as they are now dealing with the reality of doing life without dad.

The show is wildly and irreverent, while sad. As a grief counselor, I feel like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist realistically (sans the dancing) portrays how people deal with grief. That is, life continues, and you must find a way to manage your grief while life steams forward.

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