Hi, friends! Today we (I) will be recapping the midseason finale of season 2 of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist. Thinking about having to go approximately 6 weeks without this delightful show breaks my heart a lot, but I'm so happy with the episodes we've been given so far and can't wait to see what's to come.
This week's episode focuses heavily on racism and most notably, racism in the workplace. I was nervous to see how this episode would play out, especially given that Zoey's has a white showrunner in Austin Winsberg. I think it's a heavy weight to put on your BIPOC characters/actors to use their own personal experiences on a show created by a white person. It's like asking to relive all of your trauma, give said trauma to the character you play, and then sit back and watch it unfold on national television.
Then again, I would like to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman, and also say that it is not my place to say whether or not racism in the workplace was handled correctly or incorrectly in this episode, because it is not something I have ever had to experience personally. With that being said, I enjoyed the episode and the use of the show's platform, and look forward to what's to come.
Immediately following Simon's press conference where he called out the glaringly obvious race issue at SPRQ Point, Zoey attempts to create conversation and apologize for her actions in last week's episode (she was high and he needed advice on what to do with the Chirp).
Simon needs some time to process what he just said to a bunch of media outlets, meanwhile Zoey tries to think of a way to create comfortable race conversations on the fourth floor. She tells Max and Mo everything that happened at work, and she suggests that they pitch their restaurant idea to the one and only Danny Michael Davis because he is in an extra generous mood when it comes to donating to BIPOC businesses given the current allegations at SPRQ Point. I must say, this is a super creative way to get Max and Mo's business going.
At first her friends are hesitant, but Zoey assures them that her and DMD are "besties now" and that she not only did drugs, but gave him drugs. Max and Mo are both impressed and a little disturbed, and ultimately agree to take DMD's guilt money if he offers it.
Zoey decides to send her team a message via Slack (I use Slack! I write for Screenrant now, guys!) to invite them to a 'town hall' of sorts where everyone can have an open conversation about race.
This doesn't go as planned, because all the white people are the first to speak on their own thoughts regarding the matter. Leif passes the 'talking ball' to Tobin who simply says, "Racism's wack, yo." A white woman goes on and on about her Filipino fiancé, and Simon's face at that moment is so brilliant (thank u JCS). He begins to sing "White Man in a Black World" and Zoey realizes she has made a grave mistake in giving all of these senseless white people a place to speak on an issue that is not theirs.
Tobin approaches Simon after the failed town hall to express his feelings on what Simon has done, thanking him for speaking out in the most Tobin way possible ("I feel you, bro."). Simon isn't in the mood for Tobin's lack of emotional energy, or for Zoey's simultaneous over-and-under compensating for her blunder.
DMD then lets Zoey know that she, as Simon's supervisor, needs to advise him to retract his statement per the board of SPRQ Point's request. Zoey is overwhelmed and confused, so she does probably the dumbest thing she could do and asks Mo how she should tell Simon that he needs to say that his thoughts don't speak for the company as a whole.
Appropriately, Mo tells Zoey that he can't be her 'Black friend that tells her how to talk to her other Black friend' and then sings Mary J. Blige with his beautiful voice. Zoey knows she is wrong, but isn't sure what to do, and honestly it all feels very real and raw. Even though Zoey's intentions are positive, she isn't thinking thoroughly before acting, and it's beginning to cause more harm than good.
Like when she does finally approach Simon, and he tells her that he will not be retracting his statement because he knows he is not the only Black person at SPRQ Point who feels this way. Unfortunately, everyone else is too afraid to speak out, leaving him feeling isolated. He is feeling like all hope is lost and he needs to quit, and Zoey rightfully gives him some space during this time.
Meanwhile, Mo and Max pitch their restaurant to DMD, and he agrees to invest. Max has to go back to the fourth floor (his old home!) to ask for some help in fixing a glitch in the app. He is hit on by Mackenzie, one of the new coders, and Tobin saves the day with his input. Another coder makes a racist joke referring to Tobin as 'slumdog', and Tobin laughs it off before singing "The Track of My Tears" to Zoey. I. Love. Tobin.
Zoey pulls Tobin into her office to ask how he feels about everything going on, and he masterfully deflects any and all of her questions. He makes fun of her for trying to therapize (it's a word, I'm making it a word) him before eventually turning around and telling her that of course he is upset. Of course he experiences racism daily. But he doesn't want to "stir the pot", and when Zoey asks him to on Simon's behalf, he declines.
The next day Zoey is pleasantly surprised when she finds out that Tobin has shared his story on Twitter, which has led to employees at SPRQ worldwide sharing theirs. Zoey is ecstatic! Simon is not alone! Tobin and Zoey run to DMD's office where Simon is about to resign, and urge him to stop by looking at the tweets from coworkers around the world. Danny Michael Davis stops them, "I have the internet too, I saw the posts." Ha!
DMD vows to walk into the board meeting and stand up to the white men, declaring himself a hero. Zoey, Tobin, and Simon remind him that he is not a hero, he is doing the bare minimum. The four of them enter the board meeting and Simon shows them the messages that all include the hashtag #BIPOCatSPRQPoint.
Leif and Tobin share a sweet moment at the end when Leif apologizes for not being a better friend and listener, and then begins to virtue signal like crazy so Tobin calls him out and asks him to tone it down. They got get a beer. It's cute.
Later, everyone is at Maximo celebrating Simon's victory, and he reminds them that there is a lot of work to be done. Racism isn't solved, but there is progress being made. Then Tatiana, Simon, and Mo sing "Tightrope" by Janelle Monae and it is beautiful and lovely and Alex Newell has one of the best voices I have truly ever heard. And now we wait 6 weeks for more!
Zoey's is creating conversations on television that you don't normally see, and it's about time these 'tough' conversations are had. This is everyday life for BIPOC people, and bringing awareness and posing solutions to these problems even with fictional characters is monumental, responsible, and informative.
Lastly, if any readers want a little more insight in a comedic and vulnerable sense about the toll racism can take over the course of one's life, I want to recommend Lacey Lamar and Amber Ruffin's book, "You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism".