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Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist recap: Zoey and the concept of happiness

Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke in Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Pic credit: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

The latest episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was as delightful as ever, but it also touched on a concept not only important to the grief process, but also to life in general. After all, what does it really mean to be happy?

Zoey’s Extraordinary Employee brought to us incredible performances with songs by Queen, Lizzo, The Pretenders, and Britney Spears, and I honestly have no idea how they just keep getting better and better each week.

The pursuit of happiness

It all starts with Mo telling Zoey that being happy is a matter of conscious choice. You have to wake up every day and choose to be happy, and do things for yourself that will help you achieve that happiness.

So that’s exactly what Zoey does. She decides that she wants to be happy and she will be, damn it! From that point on, she’s not going to mope around anymore. She’s choosing happiness.

But of course, from the moment she steps foot in SPRQ Point, it seems like the universe is out to get her. First George is bummed because it’s his abuela’s birthday the next day and she’s no longer among the living; then Simon is super nervous about doing his first interview as the company’s spokesperson; and then Leif breaks the news to Zoey that, due to budget cuts, she’s going to have to fire a bunch of people.

Yeah, things are not off to a great start.

Meanwhile, David has an epiphany about his own happiness. Emily tells the family that if he wins this next case, it will be his hundredth win as a public defender, which is an incredible feat.

She is super happy to brag for him, but he is not overly excited about it. Both Maggie and Zoey show up at court to watch him do his thing, but in the middle of his exposition, David bursts into a heart song.

I want to Break Free by Queen is the song his heart chooses, and let me tell you, Andrew Leeds was absolutely delightful in his performance.

From that point on, Zoey knows her brother is extremely unhappy with his job. And after a great heart to heart with him, she finds out David just doesn’t want to be doing this anymore. He wants to spend time with his kid, and not be at a job where he’s not happy. So Zoey suggests that he should talk to Emily about it and see what his wife thinks about this possibility.

Needless to say, Emily is shocked and definitely not happy about this at all. They had plans! Buying a house, having another baby! How are they supposed to do this on only one source of income? Which, you know, are all valid reasons.

But after seeing David so completely unhappy about winning his hundredth case, Emily gives in. After all, his happiness is more important than having more money. Emily’s heart song comes when she sees just how miserable her husband is, and her rendition of I’ll Stand by You is equal parts beautiful and poignant.

But what was so great about David’s dilemma in last night’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was that they did not shy away from having a character choose the unsafe route.

Yes, having David quit his job will throw a curveball at them, but the fact that he chose being happy over having a meaningless job that is just making more harm than good is huge. I wish I had that courage.

Back to Zoey’s dilemma, she still has to fire half her workforce, and that is putting a jam in her conscious choice to be happy. How can she be happy and joyful when she’s causing unhappiness to so many people?

And things get especially worse when she realizes she needs to fire George. Poor, sweet, innocent George.

So after ripping that band-aid off, she goes to Mo’s restaurant cleanse — which Max is not at all happy about — and gets blindingly drunk. Which is fantastic and drunk Zoey is hilarious. But Drunk Zoey also drunk dials George, and the alcohol in her system tells him to forget about it and that he’s rehired!

When she goes to work the next morning and finds George there, she dispairs. She’s going to have to fire him again, but this time, she phrases it differently, as if she’s giving him the opportunity for him to pursue what makes him truly happy.

And what do you know, that was the push that George needed, culminating with the incredible performance of Britney Spears’ Stronger by Harvey Guillén. I cannot tell you enough how much I loved that entire empowering performance. Yes, George! You go do what makes you happy!

Other highlights of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

  • Maggie’s entire storyline with Jenna has been so heartwarming. I love that they’re slowly bringing her out of her shell, and while she’s not ready to pursue anything romantically with anyone just yet — not that we blame her, right? It’s too soon — her adorable friendship with Jenna has done wonders for her.
  • Max and Mo are the friendship I never knew I needed until they gave it to me. Again, I love that they don’t shy away from the hard stuff at Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. I loved their entire interaction in last night’s episode, and I’m so glad they’re on the same page now.
  • Simon singing Juice by Lizzo gave me so much life! What an incredible performance by John Clarence Stewart!
  • We are not turning the stupid love triangle into a love square, right? RIGHT?

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs on Tuesdays at 8/7C on NBC.

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