[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 finale, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Goodbye.”]
Following the end of the second season of NBC’s musical dramedy, we’re not only left wondering what that shocking cliffhanger means for Zoey (Jane Levy) and Max (Skylar Astin), but also whether two key characters will be back if the series is renewed.
Lauren Graham (who plays Zoey’s boss Joan) couldn’t be part of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 2 as planned due to scheduling with her new Disney+ series The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. And the finale seemed to provide a bit of closure in a way the family hadn’t gotten yet with Mitch (Peter Gallagher), with a dream and song with his daughter Zoey and his wife Maggie (Mary Steenburgen) planning to at least consider dating again.
Executive producer Austin Winsberg discusses Graham and Gallagher’s futures on the show and more about what could be next if Zoey’s is renewed for Season 3.
Will Lauren Graham be back?
Austin Winsberg: I certainly hope so. We had written Lauren Graham into a lot of the first half of the season’s episodes when we got the news that because of COVID and the schedule shifts of Mighty Ducks, we just weren’t able to make the schedule work. At the 11th hour, we had to take her out of multiple episodes. It was always our intention to have Lauren on the show and scheduling just prevented it from being a reality.
It seems like the finale gave the family closure in a way with Mitch. What can you say about plans to have Mitch be an onscreen presence moving forward?
Peter Gallagher is such a big part of the show and in the same way that my dad still lives on with me even after he passed away, any time that we can incorporate Peter and Mitch into the show, the show’s better for it. The challenge is just always, how do we do it? What are the creative ways in which we can bring Mitch back? Because Zoey already has this power, to suddenly have Mitch just appear and talk to her in scenes feels like another layer of what we call the writers’ room, bananas on bananas. I don’t know if you could have two powers.
It’s just all about trying to find unique ways to bring him into the storytelling, but I am always in favor of bringing Peter back and I just feel like he brings so much to the part. I also feel like it just rounds out things for the cast and also brings a lot to Zoey. I feel like he’s the most important person in her life and a guiding force and hopefully, we can find ways that he can continue to be a guiding force even in death.
Maggie’s considering dating again. What did you want to do with her this season and what’s coming up next?
Her whole journey this season was starting to learn how to stand on her own two feet again and be an independent person after being one half of a partnership for so many years. A lot of this is very much based on my mom and dad and my mom’s journey of grief and recovery after my father passed away. My mom had a unique turn when she did go back into the dating world again, and I did have to help her write her dating profile.
My mom has this friend, Sandy, whose husband had passed away three years before my dad, and she really became my mom’s entry back into the dating world. And I modeled Bernadette Peters’ character Deb a lot after Sandy. I like the idea of Maggie having a wing woman and trying to go back out into the dating world again. It doesn’t mean that that’s going to be easy or a natural fit for her. But Mitch talked a lot even in the season premiere this year about the need to carry on and Maggie talked about it in the hospital room in Episode 12, that she would want Mitch to carry on.
This season has been about her being able to start her business again without Mitch, about being able to go back out into the world again on her own and try to be her own person. Now she’s starting to find her own sea legs as an individual. Now it’s about the next step of that. And I think it’s interesting to take a real look at a woman of a certain age and what it means to try to go back into the dating world again. I’m excited about the kind of stories we can tell there.
A lot of David and Emily’s storyline is definitely based on my wife and me and becoming a dad while losing my dad. While my wife didn’t have the same extent of postpartum that Emily had, it was definitely hard for her to ask me for help when I was going through my own grief. A lot of that was rooted in some of our own experiences and my wife kind of being unintentionally marginalized during some of my own emotionality at that time, so I wanted to talk about her as a character. What if you are a character who has a hard time asking for help but really needs it?
Going forward in Season 3, I have some new ideas for where the new challenges they can face as a couple and as parents. It gets to a certain point with David and being out of work where he’s going to need to make some decisions there too, in what he wants to do and where he’s going to find meaning in his own life.