Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 Episode 5 was a trip, to say the least, but there were parts where I wished we could have ended the journey early.
Like life, that's not always how it works, so we have to take the good with the bad.
The strongest part of this episode involved the Chirp's disparity in user recognition.
Similar to how many other algorithms struggle to recognize Black and brown people, SPRQPoint's Chirp was no different. The company, which is already in freefall, found itself having to deal with the fallout.
Facial recognition plot points are hardly new territory for TV shows, especially police procedurals.
However, there's hardly been any mention of this problem, let alone a storyline that directly addresses this issue, so kudos to the series.
Additionally, it was the right call for Simon to be front and center because the attempt would have felt false if a white character, like Zoey, had to rectify the situation.
As a Black man, Simon was the perfect candidate, and what was even better was him reaching out to Mo and Tatiana to get their advice on how to handle the situation.
Simon: They want me to defend a company that can’t even recognize it’s non-white users.
Tatiana: And this stuff has consequences. I did a whole piece on Black people being falsely arrested because AI misidentifies us at a much higher rate.
Simon: Did you even know there are only two people of color in managerial in all of SPRQPoint globally? No, one because Ava Price left when Joan got promoted over her. So what do I do? I have to speak about this publicly tomorrow.
Mo: You quit.
Simon: Mo, it’s not…
Mo: Oh, so, you want to sit there and be their mouthpiece to protect them from their mistake.
Tatiana: What does quitting solve, though? You just got a huge promotion. You have a seat at the table. In a few years, you could have real power there.
Mo: In a few years. So in the meantime, he’s supposed to be their puppet. How does that solve anything?
Tatiana: I’m just saying he should bide his time, work your way up. Maybe, even get a seat on that board too one day. Then you can effect real change.
There are such nuance and complexity to this situation, and hearing differing viewpoints from these Black and brown characters was a great help.
Both Mo and Tatiana had valid points, and it ultimately came down to Simon's immediate reaction: Would he denounce SPRQPoint's inherent lack of diversity right now, or would he wait to try to change the culture from the inside down the line?
In this sort of situation, it's hard to know what the right thing to do is.
Calling out SPRQPoint now will draw media attention and put pressure on the company to come up with a quick fix, but that solution will most likely not be effective in the long-term.
For once the media frenzy has passed, SPRQPoint will revert to the company's previous iteration.
However, playing the long game also comes with its own set of problems.
There's no telling how long it would take to effect real change, or even if Simon would ever be in a position to do such.
No, there's no straightforward answer here, but by the end of the episode, Simon had made his decision, decrying SPRQPoint's inherent lack of diversity at the press conference.
Simon's actions will create ripple effects for not only the company itself but also himself.
This coding error has been identified, and a fix is underway. But what has not been fixed is the environment that led to this embarrassing oversight. See, the Chirp couldn’t see Black and brown faces because there are no Black and brown people in positions of power at the company. Our leadership is comprised overwhelmingly of white men, and on a board of 10 directors, there are only two women and zero people of color. And if we don’t start talking about this now, nothing is ever going to change.Simon
He will certainly face the wrath of Danny Michael Davis and may be removed as company spokesman.
However, an outright firing is unlikely, as any suspension or termination on Simon's end would only create more backlash, and the last thing SPRQPoint needs now is greater controversy.
Elsewhere, Zoey, Aiden, and Danny Michael Davis decided to carpe the diem and get high because the f*ck not?
Zoey approached rebelling in the most Zoey way possible, and while that was fun to watch, what wasn't was her realization that caring had caused her nothing but pain.
Since Mitch's death, Zoey has been jumping from one thing to the next, looking for anyone or anything to fill the hole in her heart.
First, Max, then forced happiness and fake positivity, and now an apathetic outlook.
There's are all things Zoey is trying in an attempt to lessen her grief, but like multiple people in her life have told her, there's no quick fix.
It's going to take some time, and as much as she'd like to fast forward through it, that's now how the world works.
Zoey: She cared so much about my dad. We all did. None of that changed anything. All it led to was a bunch of people being devastated. That’s the price of caring.
Danny Michael Davis: Caring is exhausting. I’m not saying it’s the same as your thing, but I’ve burned by it too.
Zoey: What hurt you? She’s dead to me.
Danny Michael Davis: I’m talking about SPRQPoint. It’s all I’ve ever cared about. And what did it get me? Endless pressure to innovate, a board I have to answer to 24 hours a day, and an ankle completely stripped of hair ... This isn’t the life I imagined. You just get so far down the rabbit hole, you just forget why you wanted to do it in the first place, or if there’s a point to any of it.
Zoey: There isn’t. My dad was the most full of life person I ever met, and if the universe can just take that away, lesson learned. You hear that, universe, I’m done caring, and I don’t care what you think about it.
Once Zoey finally accepts this, she can finally start to heal, and maybe then, she'll have the emotional bandwidth to remember that her friends, just like her, are also going through some trying times as well.
While Zoey does get some leniency as she deals with her father's death, my patience has been wearing thin.
In this episode alone, Zoey blew off Simon when he desperately needed her help because she had decided to skip work and get high and then gave Max ridiculous advice about his father, especially as Zoey knows all about their complicated relationship.
These were just completely out of character from Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 1 Zoey but are becoming more of a regular occurrence, which is disappointing.
Zoey has these amazing friends who would do anything for her, and it's getting old watching her treat them like trash.
If she doesn't start getting her act together, it's going to be nearly impossible to have sympathy for her.
Lastly, Max and Mo struggled with securing financing for their new restaurant, and things weren't made any easier when Max's father Alan came to town.
Parent-child relationships are never easy, and love has nothing to do with it.
Alan: I am giving you the money for the restaurant.
Max: Wait, really?
Alan: Well, you need it, and I’m lucky to be in a place where I can give it to you.
Max: Oh my god, this is amazing … Dad, you will not regret this. Given our current projections, you should see a profit by the end of the year.
Alan: Yeah, and if things don’t go well, I can take the hit.
Max: Wait, hold on. I only want the money if you truly believe in the restaurant, and you think that I can pull this off.
Alan: Well, does it matter? You wanted my support, and I’m supporting you.
Max: Actually, it does matter, dad, because you see money and support are not the same thing, and the thing is I really do believe in what we’re doing, and I only want people involved who feel the same way.
Alan: I’m trying, Max. I just don’t know I can get there yet.
Max: You shouldn’t have to try so hard.
While parents often want the best for their children, it can be hard for them to understand that what they want and what their child wants are different things entirely.
Max has spent a good portion of his adult life feeling like his father has never believed in him. How could he not, what with Alan always dropping not-so-subtle hints about Max coming back to join the family business.
So, even though Max has been burned in the past, he still hopes that maybe things will be different this time, and going against his better instincts, he pitches Alan on the restaurant.
And when he learns his father will be giving him the money, Max could not be more delighted, but then his world comes swiftly crashing down upon learning Alan doesn't believe in his business.
In a way, it would have been less cruel if Alan had refused to give Max the money, as that was what Max had been expecting.
However, to have his father delivering this crushing blow, reaffirming that Alan has never believed in him, well, that's ten times worse.
As hard as that was for Max to hear, rejecting Alan's investment was the right call.
If Max had taken the money, it would have been this dark cloud hanging over his and Mo's head, so while this makes things infinitely harder, it'll be better for the pair in the long run.
Some stray thoughts:
Jenna's exit was surprisingly lowkey. After all the drama the character caused, she ended up leaving on relatively good terms with everyone. She even managed to smooth things over with Maggie before hitting the road. Jenna was definitely something, and the show will certainly be less extreme without her.
Though fearful Aiden would be another love interest for Zoey, he didn't present that way in the slightest in this installment. Aiden has no real ambition, which isn't necessarily bad, but that does make him incompatible with Zoey. It's hard to see her pursuing a romantic relationship with him now.
Tatiana continues to be a great character, but I'm still scared she'll perpetuate the whole trope of female reporters using their sexuality and other unethical ways to get stories. Please let me be wrong.
How exactly has SPRQPoint managed to stay afloat this long as a company, especially with Danny Michael Davis at the helm? He's unpredictable and a loose canon; not exactly CEO material.
So what did you think, TV Fanatics?
How much trouble is Simon in?
When will Zoey get her act together?
Did Max make the right decision?
Don't forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you missed the latest episode, remember you can watch Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in October 2021.