‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’: Skylar Astin Offers Hope for Max & Zoey’s Future & Teases a Very Musical Finale
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, Episode 2, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Session.”]
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist flashes back to Zoey’s (Jane Levy) introduction to working at SPRQ Point — via the final stage in the hiring process. During it, she meets and is paired with Max (Skylar Astin).
But it’s not a meet-cute and they don’t become instant friends. Rather, they disagree about pretty much everything, until she finds out her mother, Maggie (Mary Steenburgen), is in the hospital. Max insists she go be with her family and finish the work remotely — and then when Danny Michael Davis (Noah Weisberg) decides to only hire one of them, gives up his job. (He’s hired a month later.)
But with Max leaving for New York in a week (!) with new girlfriend Rose (Katie Findlay) as he and Mo (Alex Newell) expand MaxiMo’s, what’s next? Astin takes us inside the flashbacks and teases the May 16 finale as we wait to hear about a third season.
Is Max feeling uncertain about the move and possibly Rose at this point?
Skylar Astin: I don’t know if he’s uncertain about the move or Rose. I think at this point, he’s in that New York state of mind and he was trying to think what’s best for him and best for business. There’s a lot of movement in Episode 11 and even our finale, but where it leads him is making a choice that’s based on his own aspirations.
He has kept that coffee prototype all of these years, and that scene at the end seems to frame it as hope for Max and Zoey’s relationship. Is there hope?
I think there’s always hope, especially down the line. But this season has been tough on them. They’ve been trying to be mature and persevere through sometimes awkwardness and are being as adult as possible. However, it’s a little tough when you love someone to keep them so close and in their lives. Maybe a little bit of distance is good, or maybe they’ll be confronted with their true feelings and emotions.
Speaking of being adults, how has Max been feeling about their pause and ultimately break up this season, which has then led them to date other people?
He might not fully grasp why. I think on paper he understands why she needs a little bit more time to process, but I can understand his feelings towards — could you imagine if you put something out on the line and then that person also has a window into your subconscious and it’s still not enough? I could see him losing hope by the day saying, if not now, then when?
Is there any way that Zoey can change that?
We’ll see. I think it’s possible. He certainly is in love with her. I think he has a very, very special place reserved for Zoey no matter what happens, so I think if anyone could change him or bring him back to that feeling, it would be her and her emotion.
Talk about filming those flashback scenes and that different dynamic for Max and Zoey since we’ve only seen them after they became close.
We had a blast shooting that. Jane and I really enjoyed the dynamic that we got to create and kind of the origin story of Zoey and Max. It was fun to play a slightly more immature version of the character that I’ve been playing for a couple of years now and to even provide further context into their friendship.
I also really like seeing Max meet [Zoey’s father] Mitch [Peter Gallagher] and Mitch’s “I like him” because Max lost him too.
That’s so true. I loved having Peter back on set. He’s truly the soul of this show. Even just having that little exchange with him was very important and very special to me.
Max gives up his job for Zoey after only knowing her a handful of hours or so. Why?
I think that in the scene on the staircase when Zoey gives him the fruit roll-up, he really got to see her passion. Where we started in the pilot and even dating back to this flashback of their first day at SPRQ Point, Max is not as ambitious. He says in the first episode of the show that he’s okay with coasting, and I think seeing Zoey’s passion and her calling for this job really changed something in him. He just didn’t want to deny someone like Zoey an opportunity, especially when he believes that she deserved it.
He also brought up his father, which was great to see explored this season.
Yeah. We’ve touched on it in a little bit in Season 1, and now in the flashback episode, we even give a little bit more into how he feels about his dad. And we got to meet his dad. I love exploring Max and his family life and I hope to even do more of it in Season 3. Max does have two siblings that have been mentioned on the show. Even his mother has been mentioned. He’s clearly the runt of the litter there. I like playing that dynamic and I like seeing it and I hope you get to meet everyone.
He brings up his dad when discussing the restaurant in New York. Does that influence his decision at all to move?
I’m sure there’s a little bit of him wanting to prove himself, but I really do think that it’s just a full business opportunity. What I love about it is he’s not just following a girl. He’s not just doing it to win over his family. He’s doing it because it really makes sense for MaxiMo and it’s just as much of an opportunistic decision as a heart-based decision. So I’m sure that his family and their approval ties into his decision, but it’s not really the focus of it.
We got some great Max and Mo and Max and Simon [John Clarence Stewart] scenes this season.
Yeah, I love having scenes with John and Alex. It’s really blossomed our characters and brought us together. I love working with them as individuals and actors, so of course, that’s a selfish reason why I love working with those characters, but I think seeing their dynamics and seeing their dynamics outside of Zoey has really been refreshing for the audience. Oftentimes in Season 1, we were kind of only speaking to Zoey, and the fact that we’ve gotten this time away from her when she was grieving to bond, it’s just made it even more evolved.
But at the same time, Max knows something about Zoey that Simon doesn’t.
That’s exactly right. Which is a little odd. I always find that fairly telling that she still is so concerned with telling Simon the secret and even forcing Max and Mo into awkward situations where they kind of have to lie on her behalf.
What can you tease about the finale?
There’s a big, big party.
And what about the musical numbers?
There are a lot. I remember Team Dance was prepping the heck out of it and didn’t know how they were ever going to do it because there are multiple group numbers and multiple solo numbers. There’s six or seven at least. And they’re not small. Some are more tone pieces. Some are big group numbers. Some are really quiet. I really can’t say which is frustrating because I’m excited to see it myself. I know how strong our finale, especially the back half, is.
Does it end on a cliffhanger?
I think audiences will definitely be left wanting a Season 3.
What’s been your favorite song this season?
I really liked that big musical sequence that I did: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” into “I’ll Make Love to You” into eventually “A Moment Like This.” It just really got to breathe. We really got to navigate those songs like Max would. I love when Zoey could be a comfort and a point of connection and relaxation for Max. She’s done that in the finale of last season and in that episode, Episode 2 of Season 2, where she’s able to calm him down and shut the music off and connect.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Sundays, 9/8c, NBC