div itemprop = “articlebody”>
Warning: the following contains spoilers for Sunday Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist final. Proceed at your own risk!
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist ended his freshman season on Sunday with a final that was very big on tears and lots of music that went on … and on … and on. In fact, the last act in the episode was a seven-minute musical number shot in a continuous shot as the camera passed through Mitch’s wake. The impressive performance “American Pie”, starring the entire cast of the series, closed an emotional end to the season in which Zoey said heartbreaking goodbye to his father … and potentially opened his heart to BFF Max, whom she finally kissed.
Below, showrunner Austin Winsberg breaks down the making of the musical and explains how Zoey’s grief will complicate his relationship with Max and Simon.
TVLINE | There were a lot of really poignant musical numbers, especially when it came to the story with Mitch. What were you looking for in the song choices for this episode?
First and foremost, I didn’t want everything to be so sad that people felt like we were hitting them hard or hitting them hard over the head.[[[[Laughs]There were concerns along the way if we had too many sad songs and too many numbers in a row that felt really, really depressing that it was going to become a note or feel like torture porn or something.
When my father died, a hospice worker came to our house at four in the afternoon and said, “Your father is going to die today,” and then he left. We were left to our own devices to figure out what to do. The next eight hours in my house were spent with friends, family and people who were sort of coming to say their last goodbyes. Initially, I imagined this final episode as the whole episode taking place at the vigil before [Mitch] deceased. As we broke it, it was just relentlessly sad, and it was hard to get the episode to be active or also an episode that looked like the rest of our show, and I always wanted it to look like our program. So when we got away from this idea, I hopefully found a balance where I could still show some of the lightness and continue with the love triangle and stuff with Joan and other parts of the story, and create comedy and lightness in the show, then relegate the saddest parts to the second half of the episode.
“Lullaby (Goodnight, My Angel)” is a song by Billy Joel that I have loved for a long time, and it is a song that I have always loved for my children. I always knew I wanted to have a farewell song with David and Emily and the baby, and that song, I knew from the start, was what I wanted. But it’s a really sad song. So I knew I couldn’t be too sad with the songs after that. Then when we had this idea for “American Pie” and doing an entire act that was just a song, that idea came very early, actually. I was talking to our director Adam Davidson in episode 2, and we were talking about some fun ways to do musical numbers in the series, and Adam said, “What if we did a whole act that was just a song ? “I loved that idea, and we realized that it could be really satisfying if the final act of the season was just one number. There aren’t a lot of long enough songs that can somehow make it work and feel sound appropriate. “American Pie” happens to be my father’s favorite song. When I thought about this song, and also the concept of the day the music died, it was very much like how Zoey would feel, because a lot of the light, love and music came from her father . So it was poignant, and also something that could be a grand finale where you could get everyone together and sing everyone. Because the show is also a musical, I was looking for: “What is our great musical finale for the season? “I felt like it ticked a lot of boxes.
TVLINE | How difficult was it to find a song that would suit all of the characters in this final act as well? I was so impressed with how the lyrics matched the characters at times.
[[[[Laughs]Thank you. Most of the numbers in the series – maybe all the numbers in the series – it is important to me that they correspond, lyrically, to what is going on in history. Whether they reveal something about the character or advance the plot. And this number actually breaks part of what we call the rules of Zoéité in the series, because I consider it more like a musical poem than Zoey’s literal fact of seeing a person singing the song right now. And also, we never have songs over a period of time. They always happen in the blink of an eye or within two minutes of the song we’re doing. This song goes on for hours on end … I agree that there are certainly times when they are parallel to what is going on in their lives. I remember the first time I listened to it in my car like, “Oh, it could work for Simon, it could work for Mo.” I was happy with those moments when it really worked, and then it there are other times when it may not connect exactly, but I felt that the emotion behind it was what was linked, and so I rather agreed with that not being perfect in terms lyrical.
TVLINE | How difficult was it to succeed, technically? And what happened in the set-up process?
Incredibly difficult. It was definitely an all-in-one process. It all started with Mandy Moore and I, our choreographer, as it always begins, with her and I talking about what we want it to be, what is going on in the issue. We always knew it would be a compromise from one person to another. I had sort of designated on the page, for the most part – it might have changed a little – who sang what. So we figured out how it would work and who would sing it. And then it was about Mandy going away and finding out, both on set and in the rehearsal studio, what that torch passage would look like. Then our director Jon Turteltaub worked with us, and then we called on Brad Crosbie, who was our steadicam operator, because it is largely about camera movement and framing.
Then it became a dance among many different departments, because we had 75 extras in this scene who all had to move in a certain way and move from one room to another. We start with 75 people in the house at the start, and only four people in the house at the end. We had to work with our chests of drawers and our production designers, because we had to make sure that the restoration had a certain appearance, but then, in one go, the restoration is all on the dining room table, then in the next photo, it’s supposed to be an hour and a half later, [and] there is no food on the table. And with our lighting department because it had to go from day to night.
So there were so many departments all working together to create the effect and make it all work in this seamless seven-minute plan which, really, almost looked like making a live play in this space. Fortunately, we had the opportunity, where we don’t always have the opportunity, to repeat it several times. It really was created over a two-week period, while we were doing a whole bunch of other things, and if memory serves, we could have taken a day off just to work on all the logistics for that number.
TVLINE | Do you remember how many takes it took until you fully understood?
Believe it or not, we did well in six takes. Because we were so well rehearsed and had done it so many times before, we only finished seven takes. We all felt great about taking six, then we did another take just to be sure, in case there were any problems, we would take six.
TVLINE | And is it a real oner? Isn’t there a delicate assembly?
No. The inside of the house is on a sound stage, and outside the house, we pulled outside and brought some of the rain. So the only fixture is from the outside of the house to enter the house. But the second you are inside the house, there is no break.
TVLINE | The number also ends on this very poignant and different note with Zoey singing the acapella herself. Why did you decide to finish the final at that time?
This show is about Zoey, and I wanted to be with her, alone, for this last play. I always love any opportunity for Zoey to sing, and because we’re in a more non-literal place there, I feel like we’re sort of going through what she feels, and I really wanted the season to end with the lyrics, “The day the music died. It seemed poignant to me that it came from her, and also to know that we are on the way with her. When we retire to this family at the end, it’s also a bit like a glimpse of season 2 and the aftermath, because how this group of people who have had this loved one that is so important to them, how do they move on? And what does life look like when a tragedy strikes, after a trauma in a family? So to leave them all alone in the room, especially on the couch, with this empty space on the couch, which was the space where he sat for much of the season… I just remember that there was a very specific space on the sofa where my father was always. The moment he was gone, and yet this sofa was still there, was so resonant for me and was such a powerful image for me that I just wanted to live with it and be with Zoey for the end of it.
TVLINE | There have also been some developments on the front of the love triangle. What exactly has changed for Zoey in terms of her feelings for Max?
In the final episodes of the series, Max really found his confidence and his strength. I know there were a lot of Team Max senders and fans who liked Max who was nice and there for Zoey, but some was at the expense of his own agency. It was important for him to get away from Zoey and find something he was good at. He really put himself forward in the middle of the season, making the big flash mob and professing his love for her, and so that she does not really confess it, and so that she also has feelings for Simon, c was difficult for him. So he needed to create his own space and find his own success outside of Zoey to gain his own confidence, and by episode 12, when she takes him back from work and he says he doesn’t want to resume, it really is this idea of the future. I think she got frustrated over the season, Simon spending a lot of time looking back and living in the past. And the idea that Max is this confident character who’s really excited about the future and really excited about what’s going to happen, who just stirs something in Zoey, and she is able to see that in addition to being that guy who was there for her and that really makes him love and take care of her, he also asserts his own strength and independence and she finds it attractive. This is one of the things that helps her see it in a different light beyond the light of the friend in which she has placed him so far.
TVLINE | She also always connects with Simon on a very deep level. We even see her telling her father, a little cheerful, that the fiancee at work guy likes him now. So where does that leave Zoey’s heart when it comes to the two men in his life?
I really wanted it to stay open during season 2, and I didn’t want it to be final that she made a choice for one or the other. I still wanted to say that they are both good guys, who are both viable in their own way. The fact that she sees Max in a more romantic light, but also with the return of Simon in episode 12 and that he actually begins his own personal growth and works on himself, this will continue to create different options and challenges for season 2. I did not do I do not want to go completely Team Max or Team Simon at the end. But there are still, hopefully, a few questions about what’s going to happen, and certainly with the death of her father, it will also have an impact where she is, emotionally, and what she will be ready for. season 2.
Zoey’s fans, what do you think about the end of the season? Rate it below, then hit the comments!