On the surface, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist looks like a light, fun, musical series full of show-stopping numbers. But NBC’s new drama is actually more emotional and heartbreaking than you may realize.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist stars Jane Levy as Zoey Clarke, a smart and driven computer coder working her way through the male-dominated tech industry in San Francisco. But after something strange happens to her, she starts to hear the innermost thoughts, secrets, and desires of the people around her…through giant, colorful, musical numbers. At first, she questions her own sanity but soon realizes this unwanted curse may just be an incredibly wonderful gift since her father Mitch (Peter Gallagher) suffers from a rare neurological disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), which has rendered him unable to move or communicate with his daughter, his wife Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), and everyone else around him.
EW has your exclusive first look at the series premiere that reveals the emotional arc at the heart of the series when Zoey and Maggie share a mother-daughter moment while talking about Mitch’s current situation. And while the series itself is based on showrunner Austin Winsberg’s real-life experiences, as his father passed away a few years back from PSP, the story also has another more coincidental personal connection for Steenburgen as well.
When the star woke up from minor arm surgery back in 2007, she experienced a minor side effect that ended up changing her life. “I felt strange as soon as the anesthesia started to wear off,” she told IndieWire. “The best way I can describe it is that it just felt like my brain was only music, and that everything anybody said to me became musical. All of my thoughts became musical. Every street sign became musical. I couldn’t get my mind into any other mode. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t have acted. I couldn’t have learned any lines. My husband [Ted Danson] and I were kind of frightened about it.”
After she struggled with her new normal for several months, she decided to harness it and turn it into a new skill. She learned how to play instruments and began a new career as a songwriter. Over a decade later, her song “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” is the closing song in the film Wild Rose, and she is expected to get nominated and potentially win Best Original Song at the 2020 Oscars because of it. Will Zoey’s story have as happy of an ending as Steenburgen’s? Watch the exclusive video above now to get a taste of what the new musical drama has in store for viewers.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist also stars Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, Lauren Graham, and John Clarence Stewart, and debuts with a special pilot preview on Jan. 7 with its regular time slot premiere on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. ET (following an encore airing of the pilot at 8 p.m. ET) on NBC.