Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist decides to take on race in the workplace in a way very few non-Black shows really do.
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The Immediate Aftermath – Zoey, Simon, Danny
Simon’s speech is a bit of a mic drop, and while Danny is with the board, who want a retraction, Zoey is trying to figure a way to confront the issue head-on. The problem is, her wanting to clear the air is done more so for her own conscious. Thus she holds a town hall without recognizing that not everyone will be as brave as Simon to speak up. If anything, it just leads to many speaking on any issues besides race.
Which isn’t to say Zoey’s intentions were good! It’s just she clearly didn’t understand what she was requesting and the fear associated with speaking out. Especially when pressured to do so by a supervisor.
White Guilt = Real Money – Zoey, Mo, Max, Danny
While unable to do much with changing the 4th floor, Zoey can give Mo and Max a push in the right direction with getting financing. For with Danny trying to hide behind his foundation to avoid being held accountable, he is throwing money at Black, and Brown people left and right. In fact, he was offering millions to Mo and Max, and they settled for $150,000 – which surprisingly Mo wasn’t mad at.
But, once they get the money, one issue that comes about is Danny learning/ finding a glitch in Max’s software. Luckily, his old team on the 4th floor find a fix, and rather than ask for money or a date in Mackenzie’s case, he just offers them a discount. Well, everyone but Leif because he got him fired.
The Longterm Rebuilding – Zoey, Simon, Mo, Danny, Tobin
Unlike with Max, Simon doesn’t get fired. Rather, we go through the process of a company focusing more on their image than their employees. We got Danny pushing Zoey to get Simon to retract his statement. Zoey trying to relate as a woman while playing the whole “I’m your boss, but I’m also your friend” card. Leading to Simon having to remind Zoey of the world of difference between her experience and his.
First off, it starts with Joan and having a mentor who pretty much fast-tracked Zoey’s career (my words, not Simon’s, but Zoey’s career was fast-tracked). Secondly, Simon is dealing with people questioning how he got his job, having to make himself palatable and non-threatening, and chopping away bits of himself for the benefit of others and the detriment of himself. All of this leaves Zoey a bit stunned, yet it also exposes her ignorance.
Which, by the way, even Mo has to get on Zoey about since she expected Mo to help her figure out how to talk to Simon. Like their job is to help her keep Simon from getting angry or upset, and Mo frankly says that Zoey asks for way too much emotional labor from them. Mo even sings a heart song, Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” to emphasize how done they are with that conversation.
But, with that said, while done with Zoey’s part in the drama, they have no issue with Simon confiding in them and giving a pep talk. One which really pushes that there was a serious bond formed while Zoey was mourning her father.
Now, as for how this all concludes? Well, it did seem Simon was on the path to getting fired until Tobin spoke up after Zoey hears someone make a “Slumdog” comment, and everyone laughs. Which led to her talking to Tobin, and perhaps Zoey doing what was necessarily all along – listening, providing a safe environment to talk, and recognizing, as popularized as being a social justice warrior is, don’t forget warriors make sacrifices. Which for the average person, like Tobin, sacrifices are seen as far too dangerous when you don’t have the privilege to fail or piss the wrong people off.
Thus, giving us a lot of promises from Danny and the board, but while it isn’t clear if these promises will become anything, Mo celebrates Simon owning and speaking his truth.
Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs
I was so focused on coming up with a solution that I wasn’t hearing what was behind the problem.
The Show Going Out Of Its Way To Address Something Which It Doesn’t Have To
One of the ideas presented when it comes to how those who aren’t people of color can make things better is by going out of their way to address race and privilege. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist has little reason to go into Mo, Simon, Tatiana, or even Tobin, being people of color. It doesn’t have to address Mo’s gender identity or sexuality, Simon being Black, or Tobin being a first-generation Indian. As seen for most of the episodes, it’s just who they are, and it may get addressed in a special episode here or there, but nothing to the extent of what we saw.
After all, this show is about Zoey hearing people speak through song, dance, and try to fix things. Often things can be handled with a pep talk or her pushing someone in the right direction. When it comes to systematic racism, someone singing a ballad or showstopping tune isn’t going to give her the big idea that fixes everything.
I mean, it’s as Simon said, and we saw, Zoey might be well-intentioned, but at the end of the day, she is still employed to reinforce the company’s culture. One that, yes, may have led to more women on the 4th floor, but notice Mackenzie didn’t say a thing when Tobin got that slumdog comment. Also, when Leif was ready to layoff people, it wasn’t Mackenzie who was first named, was she? And while yes, you could say, “Well, what about all his misogynistic comments?!” I would reply, two things can be wrong at the same time, right?
Speaking of Tobin, I’m glad we’re finally addressing how he deflects and allowing Tobin to be more than a jester. For there has always seemed to be more to Tobin than this misogynistic jokester, but he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to evolve beyond that. His relationship with Leif being complicated has been touched on, but that has been played down as of late. So learning how he experiences racism at work and he is a first-generation Indian-American? It felt like we may finally get to see Tobin as an individual who has an existence beyond weird one-liners. And frankly, it is overdue.
While Simon’s experience isn’t my exact experience, it is one that is very much understood. From his fear of speaking out to being ready to get fired for doing so, everything you see him do, the reason Mo praises him, is because what Simon does is something many of us want to do. To be able to call out the moments, whether ill-intentioned or not, that shows that in an effort to “see no color,” you are completely disregarding a person’s experience.
Mind you, we’re not even speaking about culture, for how Simon was raised as a Black man isn’t the point here. It is how, at the company where he has staked a career, it is seen as fine for people to make comments questioning how Simon got a nice office. That he can come into a multi-national company and barely see anyone who looks like him in positions of power, and not even get a mentor to eventually become what he’d like to see. It is feeling the need to prove yourself, yet not come off too aggressive, yet still speak up so that you don’t feel or come off like a token.
That juggling act, on top of what you were hired for, is a lot of work to deal with, with a good portion of it leading to no pay.
Mo’s Role In All Of This
Despite it feeling like Mo has been demoted to a supporting role, since their storyline with Max has more benefited and developed them than Mo, we like what we see when it comes to Simon. Mainly since when it comes to people who look like Mo, we often don’t see them interact with cis and hetero men like Simon. Usually, the Mos of the world are strictly within the queer and non-binary community, with limited interaction with men like Simon, unless they are blood relations.
So for Mo to have a relationship with Simon, to have more than the occasional check-in, but them to seemingly really be there for each other, it touches your heart. Though I must say, I’m going to need Simon to show up for Mo at some point because things are looking a tad one-sided right now.
Can we just start off by saying we’re glad Zoey has committed to being single? I feel like the show doing love triangles, where it was going with Max, didn’t make Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist better, as much as took it down the road of being more of the same – just with covers. Plus, without dedicating time to that storyline, it has allowed for what we see with Simon in this episode, and without the awkwardness of her formerly liking him.
Instead, it forced the well-meaning Zoey to recognize her blind spots, how she is far more privileged than she gave herself credit for, and that, while she has the oppression of misogyny, it isn’t the same as racism. I mean, let’s just note, there are women in that office who deal with both the issues that come from their skin color and misogyny. They don’t get to speak in the episode but let’s not pick over every last thing the writers did or didn’t do. If they are truly committed to the storyline set for Simon and Danny, this will take time and more than one episode.
|Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 6 (Music From the Original TV Series)||$3.96||Buy on Amazon|
|Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Season 2||$14.99||Buy on Amazon|
Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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