Centering Black voices and highlighting the impact of racism in the industry, Zoey’s Extradoniary’s Playlist’s latest episode is a poignant message.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2, Episode 6, available now on Peacock and Hulu.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a musical dramedy that has never shied away from dealing with difficult topics, finding ways to craft compelling episodes that somehow mix outstanding musical performances with confronting sexism or processing grief. This wild combination has never been used as effectively as in Season 2, Episode 6 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Reckoning,” which tackles racism in the tech industry in a nuanced way.
The most recent episode centers around the fall-out of Simon’s press conference from the previous episode. SPRQ Point was in a bit of hot water after their facial recognition technology repeatedly failed for Black users and users of color. When Simon, the SPRQ Point spokesperson and also a Black man, addressed this issue, he also took the opportunity to call SPRQ Point out, saying that these types of racist accidents might occur less frequently if more Black people had been involved in the design, development and leadership on the project.
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Simon’s press conference is a great source of drama for the episode, but more importantly, it brings attention to real-world issues. The tech industry in particular has come under scrutiny for racist practices and products resulting from a lack of people of color involved in the process. The facial recognition technology at the heart of this episode is a real problem, and industries are trying to recognize the bias baked into these algorithms.
This episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist deals with the topic of racism in the tech industry in a truly compelling way. Not only does it dare to include these issues, but it also focuses on the stories and experiences of people of color at SPRQ Point. Simon, Mo and Tobin take the lead in the heart song performances, backed up by dancers and singers of color. Centering the voices of these characters is incredibly important, as telling the story of racism through the show’s white characters would’ve been harmful.
“Zoey’s Extraordinary Reckoning” also highlights the complicity of well-meaning white allies. Mo rightfully calls out Zoey for thinking she “has Simon’s back” after asking him to retract his statement and denying experience at the company, while shoots down Lief’s virtue signaling as unhelpful.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist recognizes the importance of highlighting the racism of both the tech industry at the heart of the story it’s telling, but also of Hollywood and the current world in which its actors, creators and viewers all live. The show’s nuanced take centers Black voices and highlights the vast amount of work that needs to take place while celebrating the small victories, creating an entertaining episode that feels incredibly important.
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