‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ Star Lauren Graham Compares the Show to Working on ‘Gilmore Girls’

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is everywhere these days.

When an actor plays a beloved character on a popular show, it’s often hard for him or her to break free of that association. After all, audiences often struggle with seeing their favorite actor take on a different role after many years. Yet, some stars manage to transition without any trouble at all. Take Lauren Graham, for instance.

While she’s appeared in tons of films, she is best known for her TV work. Graham played Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls for seven seasons. But despite the show’s rabid fan base, she has faced little trouble keeping busy. In 2010, she began a six-season run on Parenthood. And now she appears on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, a series which calls to mind Gilmore Girls.

Lauren Graham
Lauren Graham | Ella Hovsepian/Getty Images

NBC’s new musical comedy, ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’

In January 2020, NBC aired the pilot episode of its new midseason series, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The show — a musical dramedy created by Austin Winsberg (Gossip Girl) — stars Jane Levy as the title character, Zoey Clarke. After an MRI goes wrong, Zoey develops the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her as elaborate musical numbers.

That outlandish premise allows the show to integrate Glee-style covers of popular tunes into each episode’s story. The first few episodes feature songs such as the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” and The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Graham — who plays Zoey’s boss on the show — performs the latter.

The Gilmore Girls star joined the show largely because of her real-life friendship with Levy. The two have a mutual friend in Graham’s Parenthood co-star Mae Whitman. So it was an easy transition for Graham and Levy to develop that bond further on the set of Zoey’s Extraordinary’s Playlist.

Why the show reminds star Lauren Graham of ‘Gilmore Girls’

Because of its complex tone and frequent musical numbers, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist would be a challenge for any actor. However, Graham revealed, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that she welcomed the opportunity to push herself creatively. Moreover, she seized the chance to see Levy rise to the challenge.

A lot of aspects of this show reminded me of early Gilmore Girls where I had never had so much responsibility, and I had never done something that required so much stamina and time. Jane [Levy] is an incredibly hard worker. Some of my thoughts were to help her conserve and get through the day because your body has to adjust to working 12, 14, 15, 18 hours a day. It’s not normal. It’s hard. And she handled it really gracefully and beautifully. It was nice to be there for my friend.

Although Gilmore Girls didn’t rely on song and dance, it makes sense why Graham’s new series would bring up similar feelings. Both shows balance humor with more serious subject matter. And they both lean heavily on their stars to make all the various elements coalesce into a cohesive whole.

Is ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ attracting an audience?

NBC has been heavily promoting Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Using its music and clips to drum up interest, the network hopes to manifest the series into a hit. NBC even posted the show’s pilot on YouTube. And the strategy is mostly working, as Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is comfortably NBC’s top digital launch.

The show didn’t actually premiere in its timeslot until mid-February 2020. Time will tell if it garners enough of a following to be renewed for season 2. Even if its broadcast numbers aren’t extraordinary, the series could stick around because of the strength of its digital reach. We’ll certainly be listening to hear how Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist plays out.